Oakwood Blog

The Power of Mental Stimulation

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As many of you reading this will be aware, physical stimulation is something which is very 
important for any dogs and some breeds more so than others. A tired dog is a well behaved
dog. But what about mental stimulation? Mental stimulation is a fantastic tool to keep your dogs occupied, focus their attention and
give them something to do when we are busy or out the house. Think of it this way, someone who works in an industry that isn't physically demanding will still
go home and be shattered, this is because they have worked their brain and not their feet.
If we can tire your dog out physically as well as keeping them engaged mentally throughout
the day, you will have one tired and happy dog. So what can we use for mental stimulation? There are plenty of mentally stimulating activities you can take part in with your pooch,
anything that gets them thinking and isn't as straightforward as tug this rope or chase that
ball is going to be very effective. Games such as scent work can provide a fun and engaging source of mental stimulation.
Scent work can be used to find hidden treats, toys or even everyday objects if trained
correctly. As you play this game you will see the cogs turning and your four-legged friend
trying to find those pesky hidden rewards. This is a fantastic game where you can see the
mental simulation taking place. Agility is another option. Many people look at agility and think it is all about the physical
attributes of the dog and handler, however this is not the case, it is so much more. During
agility both handler and dog have to work together to overcome obstacles, tight turns and
complex routes before reaching the finish line. Not to mention the initial confidence building
it takes to jump, climb and weave their way to success using obstacles most dogs will never
have encountered before. These are just two examples of activities you can get involved in as well as your dog but
there are many more. So what about mental stimulation your dog can acquire without the need of their owner? Mental stimulation specific games/toys are designed to test your dog's ability without the
need of your help. Kong as a brand have many of these available on the market and are a
fantastic place to start. A generic Kong toy can be stuffed with food/treats and your best
friend has to work out how to get them out. A toy such as this can last as long as an hour
before your dog has completed it. If your dog spends this much time working their brain, that
is the equivalent of a 45 minute walk for their brain! The nice thing about these types of mental stimulation is that they are infinitely customisable.
By keeping what treats you put in them different every single time, you also keep your dog's
interest and motivate them again and again to keep working their brains. By all means you don't need to head out and buy a thousand things to stimulate your dog,
try to be creative, anything that gets them thinking and working hard will give them a good
amount of mental stimulation and the more you can give them the better.

George Rooke - Head Behaviour Counsellor