Mental stimulation is such a useful tool at the disposal of any dog owner, whether their furry
friend is young or old. This is something which is often overlooked by many dog owners but
can really be the key to success if your pooch is becoming bored, frustrated or even anxious.
Kong toys are a fantastic place to start with mental stimulation. Kong as a brand offer a
fantastic range of products that are designed to stimulate your dog's brain and be more than
just another chew toy or tennis ball. Kong toys often involve the use of treats and a process
of working hard to receive the goodies inside.
A Kong is best stuffed with wet food or treats, the more smelly and tasty the better. Wet is
best as using dry will be far to easy and only last a couple of minutes before the game is over.
The longer we can keep our dogs interested in these toys the better, a Kong which lasts an
hour is the equivalent stimulation of a 45 minute walk!
DIY Mental Stimulation!
You don't have to go out and buy numerous different toys and games to fulfil this brain
stimulating need, instead, why not make your own. A few ideas include a empty plastic bottle
filled with treats and holes in the side for your dog to try and get them out. This is a cheaper
version of a treat ball, however I wouldn't leave them alone with a bottle, so just make sure
you keep an eye on them with this one. Another simple idea are doggy ice lollies! You can
easily make a frozen treat for your dog by putting numerous tasty bits in water and leaving
them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Your dog will love working their way down to the
good stuff through the ice.
The biggest thing to remember when using mental stimulation is to keep it interesting and
new! If these games are left down with all the other toys all the time then they will quickly
lose their appeal, once your dog is finished with them, take them up and bring them out
again later as a treat. Another handy way of keeping them interesting is by changing the
treats you use inside your mental stimulation games. If you constantly use the same rewards,
it is likely that your dog will get bored of them and be less inclined to work for them.
George Rooke - Head Behaviour Counsellor