To keep your favorite furry friend happy and healthy, it's essential to engage their brain as much as you would engage them in physical activity.
Just like us, our canine companions get bored with the same old everyday walk around the block or 10 minute game of living room fetch. Humans and dogs alike enjoy the benefit of improved moods. And fun, challenging mental stimulation is one of the best ways to get there!
In her article “Dogs and Exercise,” expert dog trainer Victoria Stilwell writes, “The brain is the most under-used ‘muscle’ in pet dogs.” She goes on to say that when dog parents don’t provide enough mental stimulation, dogs will go looking for it. A bored dog can very quickly develop destructive behaviors and take their negative energy out in inappropriate ways. So nip that fear in the bud and give any one of our 5 fun ways to stimulate your dog’s brain a shot!
1. Invest in interactive toys.
Interactive dog toys are a variety of play items designed to challenge the mind of our dogs. There are tons of fun, interactive toys available for dogs of all breeds, sizes and brain-game gumption!
The tried-and-true KONG is a classic choice for its durability and versatility, and they have an appropriate size and texture for every stage of your dog’s life. There are SO MANY options, you shouldn’t have an issue finding the perfect puzzle toy for you and your pup. (We might have an oversized interactive taco puzzle being disassembled as we type.)
Give your dog one of the many toys that allow you to hide treats, like our fit bits bones, or your pup's favorite toy inside and engage your dog to figure out how to get them out.
On the other side of the brain-game spectrum are the incredibly stress-relieving tech options that let you check on and interact with your dog while you’re away. Some of them let you video chat and even dispense treats! These fun, interactive puzzles and toys can help keep your pup mentally stimulated, prompting them to think, while satisfying their natural drive for a challenge!
2. Play hide and seek.
Grab a friend or someone else in the house to sit with your dog while you go hide somewhere sneaky like a bathtub or under a bed. Call your dog and let them sniff around to seek you out. It’s always a joyful reunion when your pup finally finds you. Give him or her lots of love, belly rubs and treats for doing a good job!
3. Teach a new trick or cue.
Everytime you engage your dog in a training session, you are providing him or her with a mental challenge. Search around for new tricks to work on, like shake, kiss or roll over. Quick 10 minute, positively reinforced training sessions can do wonders for boosting your dog's confidence, and it is a great way to continue strengthening the bond between you and your furry family member.
Want to take training up an entire two notches? Dog trainer Anja Boecker overviews 25 popular dog tricks like Bow, Wave and Take Off Socks for you to explore with your dog. SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: If you’re looking for a wholesome, low calorie treat that will keep your dog highly engaged and ready to learn , our Fit Bit Treats are the perfect bite-sized training treat! .
4. Get an activity board.
Activity boards are great because they give your dog a chance to explore their natural problem solving skills. They keep your dog focused on a single task, and that extra mental stimulation goes a long way. One extra 10 to 15 minute activity board game a day can make a tremendous difference to your dog.
Depending on the board, your dog may have to turn a handle, slide the door of a hidden compartment or even flip over objects so treats fall out. All great ways to keep him or her engaged and boost that doggy confidence.
As long as you fill the activity board or food puzzle with your dog’s favorite treats, you’ll have their brain firing on all cylinders!
5. See if your dog likes scent work.
Scent work or nose work is a mentally challenging activity that develops your dog’s sense of smell. Scent work involves having your dog learn smells and then detect them in the environment.
To see if your dog likes scent work, try playing ‘Find It’ or one of the other nose work games from Tuft University’s Center for Shelter Dogs. If they do, scent work might just be their thing.
Brain games and other mentally stimulating activities are a MUST to raising a happy, healthy dog. These activities help a dog’s mind and body. They also provide a wonderful opportunity to love, play and enjoy your furry best friend.
Because treats are a big part of rewarding and training your dog, it’s important to feed them the healthiest treats you can. We’re dog people, just like you, which means we love our dogs and care about what we give them to eat. That’s why we crafted Fit Bit Treats. They’re high in nutrition and flavor, but not in calories. Our dogs LOVE them and we think yours will too.