Published: 10:30, 04 April 2022
| Updated: 10:31, 04 April 2022
Dogs notoriously love the much-desired life of belly rubs, long naps, walkies and lots of food. But just like us, they can also be stressed and get health problems if they are left alone all day or eat too much.
To ensure your pup is completely stress-free, behaviourist Carolyn Menteith has shared a few tips on how to keep your dog mentally stimulated during the day.
Carolyn explained mental stimulation, problem-solving opportunities and an outlet for their natural behaviours are crucial to avoid your pup experiencing heightened levels of stress, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and behaviour issues.
She added: "It’s widely known that our pets require lots of physical exercises to stay happy and healthy. But some dog owners often forget that channelling your dog’s mind is just as important. Not only does mental stimulation promote good dog behaviour, but it gives an appropriate outlet for our dog’s natural need to gnaw and chew - which is a great canine stress-reliever."
So here's a list of a few games and activities enrich your dog's mental health.
These toys are designed to keep your pup busy and make a meal or treat times more interesting, as they provide a problem-solving challenge to them.
Puzzles entice dogs to flip, push or roll them around in order to get the treat.
These toys, however, are not aimed to be chewed, fetched or chased, but to improve your dog's learning and concentration. They are often not that robust, and so they should always be used when you are there to supervise and you can turn this into a great interactive game by encouraging your dog to work out the puzzle.
If your pooch doesn't understand the dynamics of it straight away, try working with them and showing them how to do it until they can figure it out on their own.
If you're not a fan of fancy and expensive toys, you can always hide treats in small boxes or plastic bottles and encourage your dog to find them. Just be careful with home made toys and ensure they are safe to chew and don’t pose a choking hazard.
Food dispensing toys
Food-dispensing toys can help manage boredom while building mental skills and increased dexterity.
They encourage dogs to chew, lick, nudge, toss the toys to find and obtain the food.
Food dispensers are also ideal if your pet eats too quickly, as the toy drops a couple of biscuits at a time, reducing how quickly they eat their meal.
These are a simple and affordable way to keep your dog entertained and stimulated.
A fun and tasty game is created simply by spreading your dog's favourite soft treat over the surface, such as peanut butter or banana.
Lickimats are either silicone or rubber sheets, with a raised texture or pattern on them.
This pattern traps the food so that it takes the dog longer to eat it all making dinner time or treat time last longer.
Interactive hide and seek
Simply hide treats around the home and let your dog use their nose to sniff them out.
You can also treats to a blanket and roll it up instead.
Your pooch will use their paws and nose to push the blanket around and retrieve the treats.
A good way to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated is by using snuffle mats, which encourage your pet to sniff and search out the special treats hidden in the mat strands.