Exercising the brain

Most dogs like going out for a walk – but when it comes down to it, a brisk stroll around the block on the end of a leash may not tick many boxes for your pooch. Here we discuss the benefits of exercising your dog both mentally and physically.

Have you ever noticed that your dog is still super-energetic after a walk, but completely exhausted after a short period of training? This is because the mental stimulation of training actually requires them to concentrate using a specific learning method – they have to process the information provided to them – in other words, follow our instructions.

Keeping your dog mentally stimulated is as important as providing physical stimulation; we all know that a bored dog is likely to be a destructive dog. It is, therefore, important that our dogs enjoy both mental and physical stimulation on a daily basis, in order to keep them happy and healthy. This is simply because when intelligence is combined with energy, unless that energy is channelled, the result can be trouble.

Here's a few favourite games that will keep your dog happy and provide a fun way to fine-tune some of their skills. The options for indoor enrichment games are limitless; however, we have chosen our three favourite indoor games. These will teach or enhance your dog’s strongest sense – the sense of smell, and another is a fun game that can provide entertainment for the humans watching as well.

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek is great as it is fun, and it also allows them to fine-tune their tracking instincts. Start out making it really easy by letting them see you hide some food around the room, then let them find it. Once they understand the game, have them sit and wait in another room while you hide the food, then release them from the wait and ask them to go and find it. Eventually, you will be able to replace the treats with their favourite toy, or even hide yourself and have your pup come and find you.

The Muffin Tin Game

Ask your dog to sit and wait while you take an old muffin tin and place a handful of your dog’s favourite treats in some of the holes, then cover up the holes (I usually put tennis balls over the top). Once all of the holes are covered up, you can release them from their wait command and ask them to “find it”; they will quickly figure out how to remove the toys so that they can get to their yummy treats. Most dogs like going out for a walk – but when it comes down to it, a brisk stroll around the block on the end of a leash may not tick many boxes for your pooch.

Obstacle Course

This is another awesome game that will keep your dog mentally active. You do not need to go out and buy expensive equipment, as you can use everyday household items. For example, use a kitchen chair that they can jump up onto or run underneath (for smaller dogs), cut open a large box and teach them to crawl through it, place a pole between two chairs and teach them to jump over. (If you have a hula hoop lying around your home, that is a great substitute and easy to hold up while they jump through it.) Once you have various items set up, walk your dog through the obstacle course, helping them to become more confident to complete the course quicker each time. Make sure that you don’t make it too easy, as we do want to challenge our dogs, but don’t make it too hard as the dog will lose interest and give up.