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Mental Stimulation VS Physical Stimulation

Mental Stimulation Vs Physical Stimulation

Lack of stimulation, both mental and physical, is a major contributor towards common behavioural problems in dogs. The importance of mental stimulation and making dogs work for food is often underestimated.

A Kong stuffed with tasty food turns a safe toy into a stimulating and complex food dispenser keeping dogs amused for hours. Simple fillers include smearing peanut butter, cream cheese or marmite inside the cavity of the Kong. You can also use tinned dog or cat food to fill it. Once your dog is an expert at removing the filler, consider freezing the Kong and contents but remember to warm the rubber outside of the Kong before giving it to your dog. You can also create a cheesy mixture and microwave the Kong and contents to bind all the food together cool to a safe temperature before serving.

Dog Pyramids also force the dog to work for food by moving or knocking the weighted pyramid to release the food. The weight at the bottom makes it always self-right to a vertical position, no matter how enthusiastic the game.

You can also make your own activity feeders using empty plastic bottles with treats in, or empty tissue boxes or kitchen roll tubes stuffed with treats wrapped in newspaper - be inventive, but make sure you supervise your dog in case of ingestion of any of the materials.

Nina Ottosson produces fantastic interactive dog toys designed to encourage dogs to use their brains and promote interaction between owner and dog.

Clicker training allows your dog to work things out for themselves and increases confidence. In fact, around 10-15 minutes of teaching new tricks is about as tiring as a 30-40 minute walk! Balance games, e.g. sturdy planks on bricks, are great for co-ordination, confidence and self control. Teaching your dog to walk across different surfaces, for example, bubble wrap, slippery floors interspersed with islands of safety mats, plastic groundsheets and sheets of corrugated iron (beware of sharp edges) also encourages balance and multi-tasking. Search games are a fantastic way to teach your dog to enjoy using its nose and develop its mind.