Rather than sleep their day away until their paw-rent comes home, our furkids prefer to live active lives filled with playtime, socialising and entertainment. Bored or under-stimulated pups will find alternative ways to burn off excess energy, be it by gnawing on furniture or raiding the laundry basket. If you’re having difficulty finding out what makes Fido’s brain tick, here are some fuss-free ways to keep both your dog’s brain and body in shape.
Working For Food
Turn every meal into an engaging experience by changing how your pupper eats! Switch out that food bowl and keep your furkid’s nose and brain engaged.
To start, place your pooch’s favourite treat under a blanket or laundry basket. “This game helps timid dogs experiment with unusual objects and be rewarded for their boldness, thus building their confidence,” writes Kyra Sundance in 10-Minute Dog Training Games. You could also tease your pooch by presenting him with his favourite treat or toy, show him as you put an upturned laundry basket on top of it, then encourage him with an animated “Go get it!”.
Just be sure not to make things too complicated too soon, as Fido could get frustrated and not want to try again. Kyra’s tip: When he shows interest in the basket by nosing or pawing it, help him by slightly lifting a corner of the basket.
Pups aren’t meant to be lone wolves—they learn best in a social network. “Not only are dogs tolerant enough to live in a group, but they thrive by watching others solve problems they could not solve on their own,” writes Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods in The Genius of Dogs. This not only gives our dogs the socialisation they need, but also simultaneously provides them with complex mental stimulation.
For starters, allow your dog to make friends with other canines while on its daily walk. Make trips to the dog park or organise supervised play dates with other furkids. You could even go for obedience classes or bring your pup to the beach for some time in the surf!
A wider exposure to new people, dogs, objects and places will help Fido hone his social and adjustment skills.