Dogs need mental stimulation throughout their life to be happy and healthy. Making sure they get enough of it keeps your dog from getting bored, which can also keep them out of mischief. Here are a few ways to enrich your dog’s day and keep them mentally engaged:
1. Give Them Something to Watch or Listen to
Some dogs enjoy watching TV. If your dog is one of them and you know they won’t lunge or bark incessantly at the screen, you can leave the TV on or put in a movie. This can help keep your dog entertained and give them something to do while you’re at work or out on errands.
If your dog isn’t likely to behave themselves with images on the screen, you can try turning on the radio, putting on a podcast playlist, or playing some soothing music. The background noise might not be as enriching as an actual activity, but it could engage them enough to keep them from getting too bored while you’re not around.
2. Try Some New Toys
Your dog may have a favorite toy, but trying out a new toy or type of toy can be an interesting and engaging experience. There are plenty of puzzle toys, snuffle mats, stuffable Kongs, and other interactive dog toys available that are designed specifically to enrich your dog’s day and work their brain.
Just make sure they’re the right size, material, etc. for your dog. Choosing the wrong size or material for a toy are some of the most common dog toy mistakes to avoid. But, as long as the toy is a good fit and is safe for your dog, it can be a great way to give them a new and fun experience. Who knows? You may discover they have a new favorite toy!
3. Teach Them a New Trick or Game
Spending some time training your dog is a great way to add some mental stimulation and enrichment to their day. If they have already mastered the basic commands every dog should know, you can move on and try to teach them a new trick or an advanced command.
You can also switch up training and teach your dog to respond to both verbal cues and hand signals. Not only does this give your dog something new to learn, but it can also be useful to you when your dog is running off-leash or is at the dog park.
Learning new games or other activities can also be a lot of fun for your dog and can keep them mentally engaged while also using up some energy. Teaching your dog to play frisbee can be a good choice.
Training for dog sports is a great activity that engages your dog’s body and mind. This tends to be a great fit for high-energy working dogs that require a lot of exercise and a job to do. You can even create a DIY obstacle course for your dog to help with your efforts.
4. Visit Somewhere New and Explore
Visiting somewhere new allows your dog to experience a plethora of new sights and, more importantly, new smells. Whether it’s just a walk in a new park, a hike on a trail, etc., set some time aside to let your dog explore.
Not only does this give them some exercise, but it also gives them something fun and interesting to do. On top of that, visiting new places with your dog is another great way to continue to socialize them. Plus, you can spend some quality time with them, which is one of the best ways to make your dog happy.
5. Let Them Play With Other Dogs
As long as your dog is well-socialized and gets along well with other dogs, playing with other dogs can be a great activity to enrich your dog’s day. A trip to the dog park can often give your dog plenty of opportunities to meet and play with other dogs. If you know some dog owners, you can also set up some play dates for your dogs or attend local dog owner meetups in your area.
These are just a few ways to enrich your dog’s day. As a bonus, many of them can help you reinforce training, provide more socialization, and also keep your dog out of trouble. If you start seeing any signs your dog is bored, it’s a good time to use one of these ways to help engage their brain and enrich their day.