Pets in Chicago- 5 Ways to Engage Your Dog’s Mental State

In this winter weather it is easy for cabin fever to set in not only you but for your pet as well. Volunteers may be hard to find to throw the ball for Fido when its a frozen tundra outdoors. One way to compensate for this is to swap the physical exercise for some mental stimulation. Below is a breakdown of 5 different ways that you can engage your dogs mind in such a way that it will build character into his personality. Trust me, I have an 89lb Dutch Shepherd working dog who cant receive enough attention from me on my best day and these tips help him focus and use some stored energy.

  1. New tricks for old and young dogs. Throw out that notion that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Your grandparents have mastered cell phones, haven’t they? Why can’t a “senior” dog learn a new trick? Sit, stay, and paw are all good starting points. But leaving off there is like leaving off at “See Spot Run” when teaching a child to read. Now that your dog has some good basics, it’s time to build off that. Scour the Internet or ask dog trainers for challenging tricks to keep your dog’s mind stimulated.

  2. Go on errands with your dog. They may just be boring errands to you, but to your dog they are opportunities at new smells, sounds and sights. Walking to the mailbox, visiting a friend, taking a drive to the car wash – these are all exciting times for your dog that will keep his mind racing.

  3. Don’t turn your dog into an antisocial canine. Your dog should be introduced to new dogs all the time, if possible. New dogs involve a host of “newness” to your dog. Dog parks are great for this, as are chance encounters on long walks.

  4. Don’t use the same toys. It’s great to rotate your dog toys out. Dogs can and will get bored of their toys if used over and over again. Stick to a toy for a few days, and then switch them out. Keep rotating these toys to stimulate your dog and ensure he remains excited about his toy collection.

  5. Give him a job. As much as we say we’d retire if we hit the lottery, just imagine how bored life could be if we had no purpose. Dogs need a purpose too, and some dogs are specifically designed for a purpose. Retrievers like to retrieve (fetch rocks). Herders like to herd. Even on a walk, strap a doggie backpack on your dog and have him carry his own water. This not only gives him a job to do, but he has to now focus on keeping that pack on his back, and that added weight will likely tire him out.

Dogs are pretty amazing that they are capable of sitting around on the couch all day if you ask them to. But that’s not what they want. They’d prefer to be mentally and physically exercised and, if kept bored for too long, are more apt to cause destruction such as chewing pillows. Your dog deserves the best life possible. These 5 ways to challenge your dog’s mind will help make that happen, please see our other posts on dog parks and events around the Chicagoland area that are fun for you as well as your pet too!!!!

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