We know that a healthy mind is one that is constantly challenged and it’s no different when it comes to our beloved pets. In this article we will teach you some of the most important ways in which to keep a dog interested and some basic dog problem solving ideas.
A recent study shows that there is a decrease in the capabilities of dogs to solve problems and this is due to the fact that their owners just do everything for them. Placed in front of a treat trapped in a box without any ways of taking it out, the dogs gave up trying really fast and looked to the nearest human for help.
Wolves involved in the same test were more persistent and managed to solve it in 80% of the cases while only 10% of the dogs managed to get the treat. The domestication of dogs led to their decreased interest in any puzzles but there are some ways to help them think more about their environment.
Stimulate the Nose
One thing that is still present at domestic dogs is their powerful sense of smell and you can use this to stir their interest. A puzzle in which they have to find food while going through different obstacles will improve their ability to solve such problems.
You can use boxes or containers to build a short labyrinth and rubbing the scent on some of them will give them hints on the way they should take. This is a great way to spend time with your pet and if they see it as playtime they will certainly enjoy it.
It’s better if you start such activities when the pet is a puppy since this will stimulate their brain but even if you have an older dog this is a good way to build up their confidence and their ability to adapt to new environments or challenges.
Try to Play Like a Dog
Study the way in which dogs play with one another. They chase things and run a lot, so use these natural habits to push them to do new things while having fun at the same time.
They like to hunt and if you tie a stuffed animal on a string and dangle it around this will stir their interest. If it doesn’t then just rub some food on it and then it will certainly work. Now the trick is to make it seem alive, so move it only a little bit instead of throwing it all over the place.
These kinds of exercises will teach you something about the behavior of your pet. You will see that they pause to think from time to time, trying to anticipate the next movement of their target and this is what you want.
If you move it too much they will just grow tired, but giving the object real movements will stimulate the mind of your pet while also sharpening their hunting instincts.
Discipline and Fun Combined
These exercises should be intermixed with your training routines and just as you should do in the regular training sessions, they combine fun and discipline. The first things you teach your dog are the “stay” and “come” commands, so once your pet is accustomed to them there are many ways of having fun together.
Playing hide and seek will be a great challenge and a way to bond with the pet. Tell the pet to stay while you go and hide somewhere close and then call him to you. Once he finds you the distance and difficulty of the task can be improved gradually.
When you move to unknown places such as large parks or big buildings then this game becomes quite the challenge and thus it is a wonderful way of improving your dog’s problem solving abilities. Just take your time and do it step by step because it can become frustrating if it is too difficult.
Use Your Imagination
The games we talked about are just some hints to give you a direction, but in the end these games should push you to be more creative as well, so think of new ways to spend time with your pet. There are many toys on the market that make this task easier but you could do without them just as easily.
You can make many of the toys from the store in your own home and things like empty plastic bottles will be just as fun for your dog, so don’t go overboard with your spending. Check out what happens when you put a treat in one and leave it for the dog to figure out.
Constant stimulation will make the time spent with your pet more pleasant and it will be quite fulfilling to see them grow to learn new things, while also giving them the ability to adapt with more ease to new situations.