As pet owners, we often hear about all the advantages to keeping our pet physically active, but have you ever thought about your pets mind? Dogs were originally domesticated and then selectively bred for tasks including (but not limited to) herding,
hunting, and sniffing out prey. These days, a lot of our pets have a life of a companion for the family, rather than a job. Although it may seem like our pets have it made, without something to do, pets can get bored and destructive. But it doesn’t have to be that way; by keeping your pets mind active they can be happier and healthier
These can vary from simple and easy to more sophisticated and difficult.
Homemade Scatter Activity
It couldn’t get much easier than this one! Instead of feeding your dogs biscuits in a bowl, simply scatter them around the yard. This means your dog will have to use its nose to find her dinner. This is best used for a single-family dog, to avoid any fights. Cats don’t need to be excluded; you can separate their meals into small containers and hide it in bowls they have to climb to reach.
Kongs are excellent, long lasting and durable toys, which are sturdy enough for the strongest of chewers. They come in various sizes and durability levels depending on your pet. They are an excellent way to keep your dog busy and challenge their brain. I recommend starting with easy to remove treats and slowly building up the level of difficulty so your pet doesn’t become bored. The options for ‘stuffing’ the hollow middle are virtually endless. Some of my dogs favourites include dog biscuits with a small amount of melted cheese to stick the biscuits together and then frozen, or in summer, pieces of meat frozen with low salt stock.
Pet puzzle toys
Depending on your dogs’ skill level and likelihood of destroying more delicate games, there are quite a few more challenging toys on the market. Nina Ottosson has developed a whole range of amazing puzzle toys, which are really challenging for your pet, and really make your pet work for it. Keep in mind; these are not for destructive dogs that are likely to eat the toy to get the treat! They are also a more expensive option that some of the other toys on the market, however, they will keep your pet occupied for a long time. They also come in different levels of difficulty. Check out her website for more details, there are a few suppliers online in Australia to purchase her toys.Petsafe make a range called Busy Buddy, which are less difficult and more resistant to chewing.For those very strong chewers, Aussie Dog make a range of very durable toys. They even have a specific ball for Staffies, who are known for their strong jaws!
OBEDIENCE AND AGILITY
Teaching your dog new tricks is a great way to make them think. You can do this at home, or join a local obedience or agility school for a bit of help. This is also a good way to social your dog in a safe environment.
HIDE AND SEEK
Make a homemade version of hide and seek, hiding either treats or toys or a combination. Start with easy hiding places and work your dog up to more difficult places.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, keeping your dogs mind active is mainly about changing things up, and giving them something new to do. We would love to hear about activities you do with your dog to keep their minds active, or even see some photos.