Everyone agrees that dogs need exercise - and dogs that don’t get enough exercise often get into trouble. When we think of exercise, we think of walks, chasing a thrown ball or frisbee, swimming, dog park, or doggy day care. What we often forget is that our dogs need brain exercises - mental stimulation.
Games, puzzles and interactive play can tire a dog even more than running around. Interactive toys can have food rewards that keep your pup busy. Recommended toys and puzzles are the Kong (stuffed with treats, kibble or peanut butter) that you dog has to tip over to make treats come out, puzzles - where pieces are slid over to reveal treats, the Smelly UFO that has to be flipped to get a reward, and my favorite: the Lickimat, which is simply a textured mat from which your dog licks peanut butter, cream cheese or even baby food. Putting the loaded Lickimat in the freezer makes the process (and the fun) last much longer, and licking the textured mat actually is a stress reliever for your dog. If you need to keep your dog busy (and out of trouble) for 30-40 minutes, I strongly recommend the Lickimat Soother for dogs who may be little stressed.
Another great exercise for both mental and physical exercise is putting your dog’s food in 4 or 5 different bowls and hiding them in your yard (if you have a fenced in yard). Your dogs will feel like wolves as they search through the yard for their dinner, and the excitement when they discover a bowl is fun to watch! If you are in a condo, apartment or don’t have a fenced yard, you can always hide the bowls inside. My dog Reggie would look forward all day to finding his food. Plus, it’s fascinating to watch their thought processes as they check out the old hiding places first - and it’s fun for you to try to find new, more difficult places to hide the bowls.
So keep your dogs busy - physically and mentally, and you will end up with happy, thinking, healthy dogs!