The Importance of Stimulation: Why Your Dog Needs Constant Entertainment
While physical exercise lends itself to the old phrase “a tired dog is a happy dog,” mental stimulation is equally important to the overall health and happiness of your dog. A mentally understimulated dog may exhibit behavioral issues, even if he is getting adequate physical activity.
Signs Your Dog Needs More Mental Stimulation
A bored dog is more prone to exhibit negative behaviors. A dog craves constant entertainment, as they are naturally intelligent and inquisitive animals. A dog who is lacking stimulation may exhibit the following behaviors:
Excessive Barking - it’s normal for dogs to bark at passersby or someone knocking at the door, but if your dog is barking for seemingly no reason, it’s a sign he or she may just be bored.
Whining - whining indicates a dog’s discomfort, whether physical or mental. If you notice an increase in your dog’s whining, make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any physical causes. If an injury or other ailment is ruled out, your dog may be whining because he’s not being mentally stimulated.
Pacing - Like humans, dogs will often pace when they are restless. If your dog regularly paces around your house even after your daily walk or fetch, he might need additional stimulation.
Disobedience - A bored dog is likely to get into trouble. If your dog is becoming disobedient, chances are her mental needs are not being met.
Destructive behavior - a bored dog may tear up the couch, rip up the curtains, chew on the furniture, or even become self-destructive by chewing on their legs or paws.
Why Do Dogs Get Bored?
Mental stimulation is important for all dogs, but for some breeds, boredom might seem to come more naturally. We can’t actually say for sure if dogs get bored in the same way that humans do, but it’s undeniable that their role throughout history has evolved from searching for food to sitting on laps, so that probably signifies something.
High Intelligence - If you have a very intelligent dog, it is even more important to keep your dog entertained. This is especially true if you have a working-breed who doesn’t have a ‘job’ to do.
Lonely - if you work long hours, or if you’ve recently had another pet die and your pup has lost his companion, he can become bored easily.
Being Cooped-Up - even dogs can get ‘cabin-fever.’ If your dog spends all of her time at home, she may get bored. Dogs are naturally curious creatures and crave new smells, sights, and experiences, much like their human counterparts.
How to Keep a Lonely Dog Entertained
Mental stimulation is important for all dogs, but If you have a very intelligent dog, it is even more important to keep your dog entertained. This is especially true if you have a working-breed who doesn’t have a ‘job’ to do. Prevent negative behavior and distress by keeping your dog’s brain working with these tips:
Engage in Scent games - hiding treats and letting your dog find them (bonus if you use a command!) will get your dog’s brain working and keep him entertained.
Play Hide-and-Seek - Your dog will be endlessly entertained and build confidence with a game of hide-and-seek. Hone in on those search and rescue skills!
Teach Your Dog New Tricks - the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” simply isn’t true! Dogs of all ages can learn something new. Teaching your dog new tricks will not only strengthen the bond between you and your dog, it will expend some of his mental energy.
Dog Daycare - while dog daycare is not suitable for all dogs, some dogs may benefit from the all-day play and interaction with other dogs instead of being alone at home while you are at work.
Take Your Dog Somewhere New - take your dog to a new park, a walk on a different route, or even to a dog-friendly coffee shop where he can experience new sights and smells. A change of pace will help stimulate your dog’s brain.
Utilize Brain Toys - Toys like the PupPod engage your dog’s senses and challenge them. With six levels of increasing difficulty, your dog is not only entertained by the PupPod, but actually gets smarter!
Why PupPod Helps Stimulate Your Dog
PupPod engages your dogs brain by teaching him or her to recognize different signals to get a reward. The game gets increasingly more difficult as your dog conquers each level, effectively improving your dog’s problem-solving skills. Dogs who regularly engage with PupPod will reap a number of benefits:
Increased confidence - learning new things and overcoming challenges increases your dog’s confidence level, which in turn can help solve other behavioral issues like fear-aggression or timidity.
Increased Cognitive Ability - PupPod actually makes your dog smarter! By learning to react to different signals to achieve the end result (the treat!) your dog becomes more responsive to basic training.
Increased Wellbeing - as the saying goes, “a tired dog is a happy dog,” and a dog that has the right balance between mental and physical exercise is definitely tired - and definitely happy!
As a pet parent, you want to provide your dog with the best life possible. By paying attention to your dog’s mental needs as well as her physical needs, your dog’s life (and yours!) will be increasingly fulfilling.
Abi Pennavaria is a dog mom, avid vet volunteer, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.