HOW TO Exercise Your Dog’s Brain to Keep Him Sharp!

Most dog owners are well aware of the significance of nutritious food and exercise, but did you know that activity implies more than physical exercise?

A dog also requires mental stimulation. Giving your dog’s mind a workout has several advantages for you and your dog.

The Science of Dog Minds

Agility training is great for dogs
Did you know that agility training exercises dogs’ minds and bodies at the same time?

Understanding how your dog’s mind works is the first step in keeping it sharp. The scientific study of canine cognition is the examination of how dogs process information and deal with difficulties.

This science allows us to understand how our dogs think and what is going on inside their heads, allowing us to better fulfill their intellectual requirements.

Dr. Brian Hare, an anthropologist working at Duke University and the creator of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, says a dog’s thinking translates into its behavior.

“Cognition is all about attempting to figure out the undiscoverable features of a dog’s brain or mind that lead to a behavior we enjoy or want to understand better,” states Dr. Hare.

Those subtle differences, on the other hand, may be quite complicated. Historically, because of our desire for our dogs to gain fundamental obedience abilities quickly, there has been a concentration on learning and speed of adaptation.

The notion that there are many sorts of cognition has been accepted by science.

How your dog communicates, remembers things, infers (in other words, spontaneously solving new problems that he has never before seen), and reacts to the feelings of others are just a few examples of his cognitive abilities.

Importance of Fun and Games

Physical exercise is something that we all know our dogs need to thrive, but did you know that mental exercise is also essential?

That’s correct! Games and activities that engage your dog’s brain, such as fetching or training him to do something new, are fantastic for stamping out boredom, boosting confidence, and keeping your dog mentally sharp.

Although mental exercises are not required to be overly complex or sophisticated, they may provide significant benefits to your dog.

Any game or activity that requires your dog’s attention and solves issues will do the trick. Therefore, it is important to know how to exercise your dog’s brain to keep him mentally engaged and growing.

How to Exercise Your Dog’s Brain with Fun

Walking with your dog is good bonding
Fun games and socializing are great ways to keep dogs sharp and active.

Here are three fun and easy games for you and your dog to play at home to stay occupied, exercised, and as smart as can be!

1. Hide and Seek

Hide and seek may be played in various ways, all utilizing the same basic idea of hiding something and asking your dog to find it. You can even hide things like toys and food!

Hide and seek games are simple to set up and can be played for a few minutes each day, so your dog stays interested and gets more skilled at the game over time.

If you hide and seek with yourself as the hidden treat, start by having your dog sit and stay. Then, without him seeing you, conceal yourself behind a chair in another room or even outside of his line of sight.

With a command, such as “Come find me,” call out to your dog and offer him something he wants like a treat or toy.

When your dog comes to discover you, give him lots of attention, praise, and goodies. To keep the game interesting and to further develop your dog’s problem-solving abilities, increase the hiding places up to more difficult locations like inside the bathtub.

2. Food & Treat Puzzles

Puzzles that challenge your dog’s mind are PAW-some for keeping him mentally stimulated! Not only do they need your dog to think, but they’re also excellent for slowing down dogs that eat too fast.

Best of all, puzzle toys are filled with food or treats that provide an immediate and direct reward for your dog’s effort, encouraging them to learn and improve their puzzle-solving abilities.

Food and treat problems encourage your dog to put forth the effort to reach or get a delicious reward.

From simple ones like a Kong toy filled with peanut butter to more complex puzzles that need you to slide parts and lift flaps, these games keep dogs eagerly thinking.

Puzzle games may be played multiple times a day as a treat or during mealtimes to help dogs slow down those who take their food too quickly.

It’s also simple to construct your puzzle games at home, which is great because there are so many wonderful foods and treat puzzles available.

A Mason jar or empty 2-liter bottle filled with bite-size goodies, are just two examples of D.I.Y puzzle snacks that you might make to keep your dog thinking. Get creative and have fun with your pup!

3. Obedience & Trick Training

Taking your dog to obedience training classes is not the only important thing you need to do. It is far more important to invest time in educating and training your dog than it is to simply have a well-behaved one.

It’s also a great way to keep your dog mentally sharp. It increases his trust in you, strengthens your bond, and improves your communication skills. It’s also an excellent method to keep your dog cognitively active.

After your dog has mastered the basics – sit, stay, down, come, and perform more difficult tasks and skills!

A trick training book will provide you with several new and exciting ideas, such as playing dead, placing toys in the toy box, shutting doors, and turning off lights – the possibilities are endless.

Read our related article, How To Keep A Dog Active During The Day (EXERCISE Tips). Keep your dog fit with out exercise tips!

Final thoughts

By wearing a treat pouch while going for a stroll, you may combine both physical and mental activities. Now and then, come to a halt and give some commands, such as sit down, lie down, shake, etc.

You’re not only strengthening your dog’s brain while taking these little training breaks but also teaching him the value of listening to cues amid all sorts of distractions.

What is the best method for YOU to keep your dog’s brain active and sharp? Leave a suggestion for the rest of us in the box below!

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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