After spending most of the day inside when we’re busy, our four legged friends crave going outside. Sure, some just love a stroll around the block, but you’d be surprised how much they enjoy a bit of a challenge. Here are some tips and tricks for giving your puppy the physical, but even more importantly, the mental exercise they need and crave.
The importance of mental exercise
Ever noticed your furry pal is still super energetic after a walk, but completely exhausted after a short period of training? That’s because the mental stimulation of training actually requires them to concentrate and process information provided to them – in other words, follow our instructions. It’s not too different to how tired you feel after a long day of work or sitting long exams at school, even when you’ve done next to no physical exercise.
Keeping your dog mentally stimulated is as important as providing physical stimulation.
It is, therefore, important that our dogs enjoy both mental and physical stimulation every day of the week, in order to keep them happy and healthy.
It’s game time
Luckily for you, the solution is fun for both you and your best friend: playing games. Although some classics, like chasing a ball at the park, are great, there’s much more you can try, even in comfort of your own home. Below we’ve chosen our three favourite indoor games that will help keep your pup happy, use up some of that excess energy and as a bonus, provide a fun way to fine-tune some of their skills.
Your pup may not be great at counting to one hundred, but they’re brilliant at hide-and-seek thanks to their tracking instincts. In the beginning, make it really easy by letting them see you hide some treats around the room or under objects, then let them find it.
Once they understand how it works and become more confident, have them sit and wait in another room while you hide the yummies, then release them from the wait to go and find the goods. 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.
2. The muffin tin game
Before you ask, no, it doesn’t involve teaching your little buddy how to make blueberry muffins. This is all about them learning how to find hidden treats. Ask your puppy to sit and wait while you take an old muffin tin and place a handful of your pup’s favourite treats in some of the holes, then cover up the holes (we usually put tennis balls over the top).
Once all of the holes are covered up, you can release them from their wait and ask them to ‘find it’. They will quickly figure out how to remove the toys and get to the tasty reward.
3. Obstacle course
The obstacle course requires a bit more training, so it’s great for pups with a bit of training experience. On top of being incredibly rewarding, it also makes for some great Instagram content. The best part is, you don’t need to go out and buy expensive equipment but use everyday household items.
For example, you could use a kitchen chair as a jumping hurdle or to run underneath (for smaller mates), cut open a large box and teach them to crawl through it or use a pole or hula hoop as a jumping obstacle.
Once you have various items set up, walk your dog through the obstacle course step by step, helping them to become more confident to complete the course quicker each time. Be sure not to make it too easy or too hard – you do want it to be challenging enough for your pup to stay engaged and have fun.
No matter which game you choose to keep your pawesome friend mentally energised, or even if you invent one yourself, you’ll find your puppy will have a blast learning new skills while burning off all that excess energy.
What’s more, it’s a great way to spend some quality bonding time with your mate before enjoying a good old lie down on the couch together afterwards.