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Given a choice, dogs would love to spend most of their time outdoors. But it's not just for the physical exercise. There are so many stimuli outdoors - all the sounds, the smell and movement that dogs get to exercise all their senses. This gives them a good mental workout and in fact, mental stimulation gets them tired much quicker than physical exercise.
Dogs love to use their brains to figure out a problem or to solve a puzzle. But in most city households, their scope for puzzle solving is limited. So here are a few activities to include some mental stimulation to your pet's daily routine.
Use Interactive toys
Puzzles and treat dispensers are a great way to let your pet exercise those little grey cells. Dog puzzles like the Kong or Nina Ottosson's designs generally use treats to entice dogs to solve the puzzle. All you have to do is fill them up as directed and leave your doggie to figure out how to get the toys out. Trust us, your pet will be engrossed in the task.
Play Indoor games
Activities that need them to use their senses are mentally stimulating. So on hot days, you can plan more indoor games than outdoor. For example, hide treats all around a room, whether it's behind a cushion or under a table. Let your dog 'search' for the treats and watch him use his snoot to sniff out those treats. Hide and seek is another great game for mental stimulation as well as for pet and hooman bonding.
Take your time on walks
When you take your dog for a walk, let him or her sniff. This is how they catch up on all the news in the neighbourhood – which dogs were in the area, are they new? What did they eat? and so on. This is excellent mental stimulation for your pet and if you let them sniff as much as they want, you will notice that by the end of the walk they are pretty spent.
Use Chews to Relax Them
Chewing is natural behaviour for dogs. While they grow out of the notorious 'teething phase' even adult dogs will like the occasional opportunity to exercise their jaws. Choose the chews you give them carefully, rawhide bones are made with a chemically intensive process and can be extremely harmful for dogs. Instead, look for rope toys, safe edible chews and strong Zogoflex options. Chewing helps your pet unwind as it de-stresses dogs. These are great to give just before bedtime.
Dogs that are bored often indulge in destructive and obsessive behaviour. Including more mentally stimulating activities in your pet's day will make them happier. A really simple thing you could include is to let them be outside as much as is safe. If you have a dog-safe balcony, terrace or garden, this is ideal. As you have your morning cuppa or a lazy Sunday reading session, let your dog hang out with you. Watching people go by, noticing the birds, sniffing the delicious aromas wafting in from your neighbour's kitchen are all interesting for dogs.