Stretching your dog’s mind
This post is written for This n That Thursday, hosted by the talented Two Brown Dogs and Ruckus the Eskie.
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Pet owners like ourselves would be familiar with this.
We have the same looks on our faces much of the time too. As it does with us, boredom sets into the minds of our animal friends as well.
People need to have their minds challenged in these situations, so it goes without saying that our canine friends sometimes need a mental stretch.
There are ways to occupy a bored dog at home acclimatize it to tasks owners may wish to give.
Challenging a dog’s mind can be fun for the dog, its owner and provide much needed bonding time.
Why we should challenge our dog’s minds
If you have been tired of the same old, same old, imagine the feelings of Fido who has no other tasks to occupy him. We still have the benefit of choice and daily routine to attend to, but this is a little different for dogs. Often restricted in terms of space and activity, they come to know one word.
They need a mental challenge, sometimes necessarily swift in coming, to stimulate the senses.
If these senses are not properly stimulated, they manifest themselves in untoward behavior. Cloudy, my West Highland Terrier, gets a little miffed when she has nothing to do and “woffles”, putting her head between her paws. If she is left alone for too long, she starts chewing on slippers. Other bored dogs may even defecate all over, to the chagrin of hapless owners.
Like many others, I love to travel, learn and be exposed to new possibilities, food and anything new that may stimulate the senses.
Our dogs feel the same way. This is why we find them sniffing the grass or bushes whenever they are out on walks. It is part of their process of self discovery.
How do we stretch our dog’s minds?
To prevent potentially destructive behaviors, owners should take charge of their dog’s minds. If anything else, it helps with the preservation of furniture and slippers!
1. Teach Fido a new trick.
If the dog knows the basic sit, stay and heel commands, it may be time to move past that to new tricks. Consult a trainer for new ideas or research from books and the internet. It makes him less anxious and helps him become more relaxed around other dogs.
We find games fun and so do our dogs. Doggie boards and puzzles are a great way to challenge our canines. They love figuring out how they work. A kong toy with a treat within sometimes suffices to keep a dog occupied for a few hours while a board game can be fun for both the owner and the dog.
3. Run errands with Fido.
Where it is allowable, run errands with Fido. A trip to the mailbox or to withdraw money at the automatic teller machine allows him to experience many situations. It keeps the brain working as he slowly absorbs them.
4. Give your dog a job.
Dogs were originally bred to accomplish tasks like herding and hunting. So they get a little edgy when they cannot fulfill such duties. Take him for a walk, jog or swim. Allow him, perhaps, to carry a bag pack. Even a hearty game of fetch will suffice.
5. Socialize your dog.
Nothing does better for a mental stretch than socialization. The dog learns better how to socialize with other dogs and people and has his senses engaged.
6. Introduce new toys and rotate the old.
Yes, we cannot be always introducing new toys to our dogs for reasons of cost. So do so gradually, rotating the old ones as well.
Employing your dog
A good mental stretch for a dog is to make him feel useful. Give him a job; he can be a little helper in many ways.
1. Choose something fairly simple for him to do, such as fetching newspapers. He may even help out during walks and can carry a bag pack. Allowing him to carry things in his mouth will
also keep him from feeling frustrated.
2. Show the dog how to perform its task. Repetition will allow him to make associations. When teaching him how to pick up objects, show him the object and where it belongs. Do not repeat too often;stop when the dog begins to lose interest or feels overwhelmed.
3. Treat him when he has made a good attempt at performing his tasks. Give him several more treats when he has got the task right.
Work together with Fido to stretch both your mind and his. It is a rewarding experience!
Have a great week, all!