BRAIN TRAINING FOR DOGS
You don’t know what to do on rainy and stormy days with your dog. Is it out of control, stealing things, and asking for attention? Is your dog starting to destroy the house? Is your dog digging all over the garden? Your dog is walked several times a day and does some physical exercise, but you feel that he is not spending enough of his excess energy? Now is the time to try mental stimulation!
What does mental stimulation eat in winter?
You often hear from owners who don’t understand why their dog isn’t tired after a good hour-long walk or playing frisbee/ball throwing (which should be done with care to prevent your dog from becoming addicted to the ball ).
You should know that your dog does not have to run for hours to be tired. As in the life of a human, there has to be a balance. In some dogs, cutting walks in half but adding mental stimulation to balance the whole thing will benefit. We cannot repeat it enough. The diversity of the activities you do with your dog allows the good development of several skills, reduces the risk that your dog will find the games redundant, and meets his needs.
Did you know that your dog spends the equivalent of an hour of physical exercise for 15 minutes of mental work?
Your dog needs to think and exercise his brain by learning new tricks or breaking down puzzles. This energy expenditure will bring him many benefits, such as relaxation and appeasement. In short, a dog well in its paws! In addition, when you offer him chewing or thinking activities (such as training his dog to the Clicker ), you can go about some of your occupations. As they say: “One stone, two birds!”. “
Little tip: If you want your dog to play without gorging on treats and gaining weight too quickly, use his kibble!
You can also decrease the portion of kibble slightly to add some special treats during the day.
Seven mental stimulation ideas for bored dogs indoors
So here are some ideas for keeping your sanity if you have an energetic dog at home.
1 using Kong to feed your dog
If some dogs are crazy about it, others do not seem to have unconditional love for it.
So how do you make it more stimulating? Fill it with kibble or anything else that interests your dog. You also have to be careful that the first time your dog uses a Kong, it is not too difficult to discourage him.
Is your dog the master of the Kong, and he finds all the treasures in less than a minute? No problem! I have some ideas to increase the difficulty.
To make it more difficult for Pitou to get all his mold out of his toy, here are some tips:
- Mix croquettes with pâté or add peanut butter and freeze everything.
- Still too easy? Add bully sticks or tracheae in the Kong and freeze everything. It should keep your dog busy for a while!
- Try out different types of interactive toys. You can find a variety of them in the store of our partner Thunder’s treasure.
Interactive toys are super cool because they get your dog to work, but they also keep him occupied for quite a while. It gives you the freedom to do your business (preparing lunches, the children’s lunch, etc.) without having your dog in your hands. It is ideal for small puppies who tend to cause us a lot of trouble with theft of objects or the like when we do not have them in front of us.
Ditch the food bowls and switch to interactive toys. You won’t see meal times the same way anymore.
- Put only peanut butter inside (plan to reduce the portion of the next meal and be careful that it does not have Xylitol, an ingredient toxic to dogs ).
- Make a Kong of rewards per pyramid. That is to say, but the ultimate reward at the end (a piece of banana, for example), then hot dog sausage, fried chicken, then croquettes.
- Grind strawberries, blueberries and add yogurt, put everything in the Kong, and freeze it.
- Try our recipes for your dog’s Kong freezer toys!
Leave room for your imagination!
2 Play the croquettes hiding place
For this game, you have to hide kibble all over the house. Your dog mustn’t see where you are leaving them. So put your dog in a closed room, close the door and go and hide the kibble in the house. Once they are all over the place, see your dog and then give him a kibble or two. Open the door by giving him the command “seek.”
Be careful; this game has several levels, depending on your dog’s skills. Always start with an easy game so that your dog is in a situation of success.
Limit yourself to one room during your first attempts, where your dog will have to search among accessible and easy hiding places. For example, the first time you play, place kibble on objects where your dog will find it easy to find what It is looking for (coffee table, a shelf in a toy, etc.). Congratulate it when it finds the reward !!
- Increase the difficulty of this game day by day.
- Hide a small number of kibble in easy places the first few times, then increase the number when your dog becomes too good a detective.
- We can also help our dog in his research to avoid losing his interest by pointing him to a specific place.
- Use your imagination and toss the treats into the snow or grass.
This exercise puts into practice our dog’s most powerful sense: his sense of smell! Making him fall back into his first instincts (looking and eating) stimulates him mentally, and all thanks to his snitch.
3 Play hideout with your dog
This game is really interesting and by far my favorite! You make your dog work mentally, but you also practice his recall. Super simple to make, and you can play on your walks in the woods or around the house.
You need to hide and call your dog. Don’t forget to reward and congratulate It when it finds you!
4 learn a new trick or trick at Fido
What could be more fun than teaching our dog new tricks? I love to teach my dog freestyle. It’s a good way to get them to work by giving them their portion of food other than a bowl. Metal bowls for food are a thing of the past!
Are you running out of ideas, can’t teach your dog a specific trick, or don’t know how to do it? Refer to our online course: Tricks and Tips, a must-have for learning various tricks.
You can also hone your dog’s obedience. There is a variety of obedience exercises. For example, we like to practice competitive kicking here or to solidify the basics with various distractions. It can be a diaper/rest in your parking lot, while children pass by, etc. Make sure that the command is mastered inside and gradually increase the level of difficulty. We must always place our dog in a successful situation! You can find several obedience tutorials on our YouTube channel.
5 Dog play stations
In recent years, several companies have become masters in the art of entertaining dogs (and even cats), much to the delight of owners. Although they represent a monetary expense, these games are well worth the investment.
Having your dog working to access his food provides him with several benefits, such as reduced stress and slower food intake. These games are also very good tools to help solve behavioral problems in our dogs because they make them spend mentally.
Now let’s talk about toys! How to navigate when the shelves of stores are full of products? It depends on what you want, but also what your dog likes.
Types of toys:
- Dispensing balls: You can find all shapes, sizes, and colors inside or without a maze to increase the difficulty. The good thing is that your dog is moving simultaneously to use Its sense of smell to get the kibble out.
- Digging mats (enrichment mats ): The most developed sense in your dog is his sense of smell. Why not treat It too treats hidden in a rug that can have many kinds of “hiding places” and fabric textures? Psst. This game is ideal for flat-nosed dogs like pugs.
- Puzzles: There are puzzles for all types of dogs, difficulty levels, and budgets. The most popular are the Aïkiou with the dog’s paw and all of Nina Ottosson’s games which are the most diverse on the market.
Are you short on budget, but would you like to DIY this type of activity yourself? Here are some alternatives:
- The dispenser bottle: Take a 2-liter carbonated drink bottle, make a few holes in it, then insert some croquettes or treats. Your dog will need to roll the bottle and lug it around to get its food. * If your dog has a strong jaw, you can use a black ABS tube, make a few holes in it, insert kibble in it, then close each side with caps.
- The “homemade” digging mat: You can make your own for just under $ 12 by purchasing a fleece blanket and a mat for the kitchen sink. You will need to cut tabs and tie them to the rug in a knot. I warn you, it takes a long time to go, but your dog will have a lot of fun. Get the kids involved! You can also hide treats in broken napkins or roll them up.
Warning: always supervise your dog when playing with these games.
Read More: Doggy Dans
6 learn a new discipline with your dog
In recent years, dog sports have been gaining more and more ground in Quebec, which is good news for dog owners. So, why not introduce yourself to one of them? These activities allow owners to improve the relationship they have with their dogs while playing sports. A two for one!
FITNESS: WHEN STRETCHING AND STRENGTHENING, PITOU BECOMES FUN!
Do you have an active dog who enjoys Frisbee or other activities? Dog fitness allows your dog to build muscle and thus avoid injuries caused by physical activities. However, this sport is also suitable for dogs who are more home-like. This discipline aims to improve muscle tone, flexibility, balance, proprioception, mind, cardio, reflexes and prevent injuries and excess weight.
To be practiced in the comfort of your own home, this activity requires some basic learning to avoid potential injuries. You can find an online course on dog fitness with our teacher, Marie-Josée Tousignant, certified in fitness.
ODOR DETECTION: FLAIR IN ALL ITS FORMS
Scent detection has become a very popular sport. The dog must find a target odor hidden in a defined space and alert its handler by indicating its exact location. This sport requires perfect communication between the dog and Its human (which I love when I practice a sport).
Dogs love to use their noses for all kinds of occasions. Does your dog sniff the ground several times during the walk? You know why now. In addition, odor detection is a great activity for everyone, but especially for reactive, anxious, nervous, and fearful dogs. Why? She allows her dogs to acquire better self-confidence, which can improve their state of being.
To learn more about the different ways to help your responsive dog, here are a few articles you might be interested in:
- Beware of these mistakes to be avoided at all costs with a reactive dog!
- Reactive dog: 5 exercises to start training well
- Why does my dog bark all the time when he sees another dog?
Also practiced in the comfort of your home, this activity requires a learning base to guide your dog properly and for the scents to use. You can find an online course on odor detection for beginner and intermediate level with our teacher, Anne-Marie Giroux, who is specialized in this discipline.
In addition, there are plenty of other disciplines to do indoors with your dog to stimulate him mentally:
- Rat sports
- Freestyle frisbee
It is up to you to find what motivates your companion, and from that moment on, you will be able to develop an unparalleled relationship with him.
7 Make canine self-control games
Photo: Abby – credit: Jessica Pelletier
Does your dog wander or moan often? Is he unable to stay in place or on his cushion for 10 seconds? Play self-control games! Your dog will be able to expend energy in addition to learning how to manage his emotions better. You will notice a big difference in your workouts.
One game that I like to play with my dog is tug. The dog should shake a rope while you are holding it too. It is important in this activity to teach your dog to give the tug on demand. It is how we will come to practice Its self-control so that it learns to manage its emotions.
We have a full video that explains how to tug well.
Warning: If your dog starts to shake his head a lot, let go of the rope and let him tug on his own so as not to hurt him. Always tug horizontally and NEVER vertically.
Another idea to help your dog control himself? Practice dressage exercises based on Premack’s law with him!
Other stimulation needs to be met in dogs.
Mental stimulation is fine, but you shouldn’t forget about your dog’s other stimulation needs. We are talking about chewing, chewing, destroying, shredding, and licking. How to satisfy this need? Give your dog regular chewing activities (bully sticks, deer antlers, raw bone, etc.) and offer him toys that he can destroy without problem (the $ 1 store is perfect).
There is also physical stimulation. We must not think that our dog will be satisfied because it spends its day doing mental activities even if these correspond to 1 hour of physical activity per 15 minutes. Your dog needs to be outside for his mental health, just like you!
Finally, your dog needs social stimulation with both humans and animals, if he likes it, of course. He should not be forced to like contacts. Some breeds, like sheepdogs, don’t like the company of their canine companion. It is often the opposite (but not always) with hunting dogs who are more playful with their fellows. As such, we do not recommend dog parks which are often a source of stress for dogs. We have an article to find out if my dog likes to play with other dogs!
Out of the ordinary ideas to keep your dog busy!
I cannot repeat it enough: use your imagination!
You might be surprised at all the activities you can do with your dog. For example :
- Invite your canine friends over to your house
- Go to a dog cafe
- Shop at pet stores or those that accept dogs
- Go to an indoor dog park that a canine behavior worker supervises
- Go swimming
- Do Doga (Yoga with your dog)
- Running group races/training with your dog
- Doing Cani-cross with his dog
No more crazy dogs who don’t know what to do with their hair!
Despite all the ideas left in this article, there are 1001 other games to play with Pitou to stimulate him mentally. Even in winter, there are plenty of activities to do with your dog! It is up to you to choose these according to your dog’s preferences because it must motivate him to work.
Would you like to incorporate more chewing activities into your dog’s routine but not know where to start? Do not miss our mini online seminar: Chewing – Chewing to solve certain behavioral problems.
In addition, with the promotional code CJ20, you get a 10% discount on your purchases.