Dogs Need Mental Exercise, Too

Is your dog ...

whining?
pacing?
ignoring you?
staring out the window?
eating less?
barking at nothing?
running from window to window?

When Molly started doing all of these things, we realized she needed a little more mental exercise than she was getting. After going from three dogs in the house to just her, she's been a Velcro dog, needing a little more time and attention.

If your dog is doing any combination of these, here are some ideas that might work that busy brain in there.

* Command training. This should be a frequent event anyway, regardless of how old they are or the training they already have. Teaching and reteaching commands activates a dog's brain the same way doing a puzzle affects ours. Plus, you'll have a better behaved dog for your efforts.

* Take time every day for play. No matter how busy we are, it's so important to spend 20-30 minutes of playtime with our puppies. Even the laziest of dogs can use some interaction, and high-energy dogs need it to work off energy and bond with you. Fetch is great for starters, sending different balls and toys flying each time.

* Play some hide and seek. With your dog out of the room, hide some tiny treats everywhere. Make it challenging - under thing, around things, behind things, on top of things. They'll have to really use their eyes and noses to find them all, which keeps their brains whirring.

* Go for a walk or run. If you burn off that extra energy, they'll settle down much easier. A tired dog is a happy, non-destructive dog, which is the perfect scenario.

* Introduce some new toys. You get excited over new things, and your dogs will, too. Sometimes the distraction of something new to chew on, fetch or snuggle will calm them and jumpstart their brain at the same time.

Try a combination of these brain-stimulating ideas and watch the difference in your dog's behavior.

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