Animals living “in the wild” naturally have much higher activity levels. After all, they have to find their own food. Our pet dogs, however, may spend much of their day lazing about as they don’t have to hunt and catch their own food and they don’t have to escape predators. But, of course, this was the life of the ancestors of our pet dogs and they still have those survival instincts and problem-solving ability which will come to the forefront in working dogs in particular.
Dogs living with us in our homes may get regular walks and play time but our busy modern lifestyles mean that we cannot always be there to provide mental stimulation. Sometimes, this can lead to unwanted behaviors – such as chewing, barking or digging or even obsessive tail chasing or licking – simply due to boredom.
You can help to keep your dog busy and happy and here’s some of our favorite ideas.
- First, make sure they get plenty of walks (all that exercise is good for you too don’t forget) - a tired dog is a happy dog.
- Hide their food to make them work for it. Stuff food into toys, divide meals into separate spots around the house, or even scatter dry food out in the garden. You can also buy high-tech feeding devices that release just a little food at a time.
- Of course, there are lots of interactive puzzle-type toys on the market too that will help your dog use all their problem-solving skills to get to that treat.
- Give them something to really get their teeth into – instead of your furniture – check out the options at your local pet store – from natural ram horns or antlers to strong nylon toys.
- Make sure they have the opportunity to be social with other dogs, ideally off-leash at the dog park.
- Best of all, spend time with your dog. Spend some quality time every day on teaching your dog a new trick, play tug-of-war or a simple game of fetch. Why not check out local classes – Agility, Flyball and more.
- Dogs are smarter than we think – the only limitation is your imagination!