Brain Games and Enrichment!
Everyone knows that dogs require plenty of physical exercise but did you know that its just as important that they exercise their brains? Adding a mental enrichment into your dog’s daily routine has lots of behavioral benefits:
Reduces nuisance behaviors (barking, chewing, and digging)
Can help minimize separation stress
Gives your dog a job
Keeps your dog occupied while you do other tasks
Tires your dog our mentally and physically
Plus, it’s just plain fun!
There are countless ways that you can offer your dog opportunities to problem solve, but here are some of our favorite toys, games, and activities!
Nina Ottosson Tornado
Nina Ottosson Dog Casino
Nina Ottosson Twister
Nina Ottosson Dog Brick
The Paw Flapper
Kibble/Meal Dispensing Toys
IQ Treat Ball
Atomic Treat Ball
Tricky Treat Ball
Pick Pockets (food foragers)
Take your dog's dry dog food breakfast or dinner and scatter it around a room and let your dog search and sniff to find their meal! If you have multiple dogs, we recommend giving each dog their own room to search!
As they get good, you can more specifically hide the food in the room for them to search or you can scatter the food over a wider area. Add more bang for your buck by practicing a sit or down stay while you hide the food.
Place some food in the cups of a muffin tin and then place tennis balls in the cups!
Snuffle Mats are simple to make
Use a dish towel and loosely roll/fold/twist treats inside and let your dog figure it out
Crumple up newspaper loosely and fill a medium sized box, poor kibble/treats into the crumpled newspaper, and let your dog search
*Know your dog, if they like to ingest non-food things, you might choose different materials or games for them to explore
Frozen Kong (or Tux, Toppl, Squirrel Buddy, etc)
Stuffing a Kong (or similar toy) and freezing it is a great activity to keep your dog busy! Depending on how you stuff the toy and what you use in it, your dog may utilize a wide range of tactics to empty it! They might throw it, tip it, squeeze it, lick it, or some other methods--this problem solving is a great way to tire them out and keep them busy!
Beyond all of these food-driven activities, dogs thoroughly enjoy smelling so taking them out some place new and letting them leisurely sniff around is an excellent way to tire them out! Let them sniff all the things and read the news of the day left by all the creatures who explored that area before!