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One of the biggest issues dog owners have is keeping their dogs busy enough so they don’t get into trouble. If you exercise your dog’s mind and body properly, you can usually avoid the destructive behavior that results from boredom.
What are some things you can do to engage your dog’s mind?
There are canine IQ tests – Google has one that allows you to see how smart your dog is. But do you really care? I know I don’t. It’s all about the process that produces the exercises for your dog’s mind.
Problem Solving Skills
Give him a few small problems to solve, for example hide a toy with some smelly food in it like peanut butter, buy him puzzle toys, put treats inside a stuffed animal or hide something your dog craves (could be a ball, a bone, stuffed animal) in the back yard, and ask him to find it. You can be creative – make it simple – you don’t want him getting frustrated – You just want him to work his brain.
This takes a lot of mental energy to follow and recognize commands or to perform tricks. This can be a very effective way to engage a dog’s problem solving skills.
Teach your dog something he wouldn’t ordinarily do, for example, to speak on command, or to sit up on his haunches and beg on command.
Work for Everything
Dogs shouldn’t always get things for free – dogs expect and enjoy having to work for things like treats, and attention – let them do something for it, like sit, stay, lay down, etc.
Performing their “job”
Many dogs are bred for a particular job. Give them that opportunity if you can – it provides satisfaction and also works their mind. If you can’t give them the job they were bred for, find another job for them to do, such as getting the newspaper, carrying packages, or guarding the house while your away.
Putting a dog’s entire body to work and making sure they wear themselves out also provides mental stimulation. Just like ours, a dog’s brain deteriorates when it’s not worked properly. Remember not only does the body need exercise, so does the brain in order to stay fit!