Is your dog bored? Need to keep them preoccupied? This list from Puppy Leaks offers some great advice on ways to exercise your dog’s mind.
1.) Have Your Dog Work For Their Food
Instead of just handing your dog a treat, try giving it to them inside of a toy like a Kong or a Bob-A-Lot. There are many types of toys that you can insert a treat into and your dog needs to work to get it out. I can personally attest to how much my dog loves being given a treat (and a task) in her “treat ball”.
2.) Let Your Dog Sniff & Explore on Walks
Going for a walk is one of the highlights of your dog’s day. Don’t rush it! Your dog loves analyzing the new smells and collecting that information every day.
3.) Get Your Dog a Puzzle Toy
In addition to puzzle “treat” toys that offer rewards, consider getting a puzzle toy—a toy with parts they need to move and/or remove to play with. My dog personally enjoys having larger toys that are stuffed with smaller ones she can pull out, one by one.
4.) Teach Your Dog Some New Tricks
Learning a new trick can boost your dog’s confidence and strengthen your relationship!
5.) Play Some Nose Work Games
Have your dog stay in position as you go hide treats somewhere in the house and then have them sniff it out. If you’ve never played a game like this before, start with easy, visible spots. As they get used to this game you can make it harder!
6.) Teach Your Dog the Names of Their Toys
Houseguests were always so impressed by my first dog the way we could tell her “go find your squirrel” or “go find your kitty cat” and she’d always come back with the right toy. Teaching your dog the names of their toys is a fun trick to show off and a great mental work out.
7.) Play Some Free Shaping Games
Have you tried teaching your dog “free shaping” games? The basic idea is providing your dog with an object—like a box or a stool—and teaching them a way to interact with it.
8.) Make an Obstacle Course For Your Dog
Navigating an obstacle course is a great way to keep your dog’s mind active. Even if you don’t have fancy agility poles and stuff, there are some great DIY obstacle course making guides online (or you can just use things you have around the house).
9.) Engage in More Interactive Play With Your Dog
This seems like the most basic advice, but we’re all guilty of telling our pets to leave us alone when we’re busy. Make sure you put the time into engaging your dog in fetch or tugging games. Devoted playtime can help keep your dog mentally and physically in shape and makes them less likely to have behavioral issues.
10.) Play the Shell Game With Your Dog
Take three opaque cups or containers. Put a treat under one. Shuffle them around. See if your dog can find the treat.