Puppyhood is all about growth and learning for your young four-legged friend. That’s why it’s important to give them opportunities to mentally engage.
Here are four tips to give your puppy mental and physical stimulation to help them develop into a happy and well-adjusted companion.
1. Be sure to attend puppy school
Puppies are cute, but they also take work helping them adjust to their everyday routine, including sleeping, feeding and toilet training. It’s also important to get them used to socialising with other dogs, so they grow in confidence for future social outings. This is where attending puppy school can be priceless.
During class, your pooch will learn about social cues and how to communicate appropriately with other dogs. Also, you will learn how to communicate with your puppy and gain a better understanding of their different behaviours and cues to help you develop a strong bond with them, for life.
Many vet clinics offer complimentary puppy classes that can help you lay the foundations for at-home training for many years to come.
So it might be worth phoning your local vet to see if they have a schedule.
2. Teach them new tricks
Puppyhood is the time when your dog’s brain is most receptive to learning new things. Setting them mental challenges, such as training them to heel or learning a new trick, not only gives their brain a good workout, it helps them develop to their fullest potential. So, if your puppy can already confidently master some basic behaviours such as ‘sit’ or ‘down’, be sure to keep the ball rolling, even as your dog matures. You could, for example, move on to other fun tricks, like learning how to ‘shake hands’ or ‘high five’.
High-energy training also has the potential to improve your pup’s stamina, muscle tone, flexibility and focus, and most importantly, increase your mate’s confidence as they learn to master something new.
As a rule of thumb, it can be a good idea to break down the trick into stages, keep training sessions short, and work at your dog’s pace – and don’t forget rewards for good work.
3. Seek out the right toys
If you’re a first-time dog owner, you may be surprised to see just how many innovative toys there are to keep your pup mentally occupied. Puzzle toys, for example, help your puppy develop their problem-solving skills. They usually consist of different compartments to hide treats in, which your pup will then have to sniff out, or perform a task (like pawing a button) to reveal the reward.
Having a range of toys allows you to rotate them and can help keep things fresh for your puppy and prevent boredom.
4. Put your pup through their paces
Creating a fun obstacle course for your puppy can provide both mental stimulation and a good workout at the same time. Some pet stores offer obstacle courses for sale, but you can also easily create your own from items you have lying around your home. Just be aware of your puppy’s capabilities and make one that’s challenging but not too hard – and most importantly, safe.
If you have children at home, you could repurpose things like a lightweight play tunnel for your puppy to zoom through, pool noodles as low jumping barriers or a toilet roll to create a maze.
Training and providing a range of brain-teaser games and other stimuli can go a long way toward helping your puppy grow into a happy and healthy family companion. Your pooch will thank you with a lifetime of fun, love and loyalty.