How to Tell if Your Dog Needs More Mental Stimulation

Is your dog bored? Are they getting enough mental stimulation? With our busy lives, it can be easy to forget that our dogs not only need to be fed and exercised, but they also need some mental stimulation to keep their brain active.

We will go over some signs you can look for to see if your dog is bored. And we will also give you some things you can do with your dog to keep them healthy and happy.

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dog needs more mental stimulation

Signs Your Dog Needs More Mental Stimulation

Is your dog bored? How can you tell? There are a few signs you can look for to tell if you need to give your dog more mental stimulation.

Seems agitated and won’t settle. Does your dog do a lot of pacing or whining? Will he not sit still, even after getting some exercise? If your dog is getting enough physical exercise and still seems to have a lot of energy them you may need to exercise their brain.

Destroying things. Is your dog chewing, shredding, tearing, and ripping your furniture and other things lying around the house? This is a sign that he is looking for some stimulating activity. Give him an interactive dog toy or puzzle to play with to keep him entertained.

Chases its tail. A dog chasing its tail is common among herding dog breeds. It is a sign that you need to provide more mental stimulation for them.

Barks at everything. Does your dog seem to bark at everything that moves? This is a sign that they are looking for trouble and seeing everything as a threat. You need to give them something to do so that they stop looking for threats. If your dog does this a lot then you may also need to give them some training to help stop them barking.

Digs holes. Does your dog dig a lot of holes every time they are outside? This is another sign they are bored and looking for something to do. You could try giving them their own place to dig, like a sandpit and bury their toys or treats there for them to dig up.

Sleeps a lot. Adult dogs sleep on average 12-14 hours a day. They don’t have a regular sleep pattern and will take several naps throughout the day. If your dog is sleeping more than this he could be bored.

Now that you have figured out your dog is bored what do you do next? If your dog has some, or all, of these signs of boredom you should try some ways to give them some more mental stimulation in their day.

How to Provide More Mental Stimulation for your Dog

Play more. Do you play with your dog? If all you do is take them for a walk once a day then you should try adding in some interactive playtime with your pup. Make your playtime more stimulating and fun with a few of these mental games for dogs.

  • Hide-and-seek. Hiding toys or food can stimulate your dog’s nose and sense of smell and get their mind working. Just rub the scent from their favorite toy or treat in a few places around your home and yard then hide it and let your dog find it. This will stimulate their natural hunting instincts while keeping them active.
  • Obstacle course. Create an obstacle course out of things you have lying around, like boxes, containers, chairs, or ladders. Make some things to go over, some to go under and some to weave around. Guide your dog through slowly to start with and use treats as encouragement. Be patient with them, they will catch on eventually and be able to do it on their own.
  • Interactive outdoor games. Play some interactive games outside with your dog. Games like fetch, catch or frisbee are a great way to get your dog some exercise and keep their brain active. You could also try tug-of-war if your dog is not too aggressive.
  • Teach your dog the shell game. Play this classic game with your dog. Grab three cups and hide a treat under one cup. Mix them up and get your dog to pick the one with the treat. If they get it right they get the treat. It may take some time to train your dog to play this first but it will be worth it.

Buy an interactive dog game. There are plenty of interactive dog toys available to help stimulate your dog’s mind. You could try the Nina Ottosson DogTwister Interactive game, the Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board, or the Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Dog Toy to keep your pup mentally active during the day.

Put their food in a container. You could make feeding time a little more challenging for your dog by putting their food or treats inside a container. Use an empty plastic bottle or buy one of these great dog treat dispensers to make it more interesting and interactive for your dog. This is also a great way to slow down your dog’s feeding if he seems to eat too fast.

New environments. Keep exposing your dog to new things and new environments. Some toys can become stale and boring after a while so come up with new ones to make or buy. Take your dog to new environments all the time. Go to different parks, the beach, or walk a different route. Also, remember to give them some freedom when you are outside to explore and sniff around their new environment.

More training. Work on a new trick or command. Training is a good way to provide mental stimulation for your dog and keep them challenged and active.

Agility training. Join an obedience school or agility training to get your dog into different situations and keep them learning new things.

Stimulate Your Dog’s Mind!

Keep your dog mentally and physically fit by changing things all the time. Continue to give them new games, new toys, and new training. If you let your dog become bored it can lead to behavioral problems that can be difficult to fix.

Also remember, social interaction is important for your dog. They need to spend time with you and your family and with other dogs to keep them happy and healthy.

We hope you have learned some new ways to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated.