Mental Exercise is Important for Dogs

Most Clifton Park dog owners realize the importance of daily physical exercise for their pooches and develop a routine to keep them at the top of their game. However, the importance of mental exercise to their dog’s overall wellbeing is often overlooked, due in large part to a lack of awareness.

It’s time to educate pet owners on the subject, according to Pet Behavior Expert Mychelle Blake, a contributing author for Pet Health Network. Here, in her excerpted article titled Five Great Ways to Challenge Your Dog’s Mind by Pet Behavior, Blake offers some tips to get Fido or Phoebe using their grey matter more.

1. Behavior training for dogs
Obedience training can be more than just simply teaching your dog sit, down and other common manners and behaviors. Training your dog to learn a new behavior asks him to think and learn and engage his brain. You can become creative in what you teach, through a number of methods, including using tricks, which are a wonderful way to constantly keep your dog learning while enjoying an activity that’s fun for both of you.

 2.“Outside the box” training classes for dogs
Taking your dog to a “regular” obedience class helps to socialize her/him and helps you both learn how to communicate with each other. It’s also terrific mental exercise for a dog since it involves not only the learning process but also handling a new and varying environment. Once the “typical” dog parent finishes obedience class though, as many a dog trainer from my personal experience can attest, they decide they are “done.”

There are many wonderful options available today for you to continue in classes with your dog, such as classes on teaching tricks, therapy dog training, and a whole host of dog sports such as agility, rally, canine freestyle, scent work, barn hunt and much more. Albany/Saratoga Off Leash K9 Training serves Clifton Park, New York’s Capital District and beyond and offers basic and advanced canine obedience training. Additionally, OLK9 offers puppy classes, obedience refresher classes and therapy dog packages.

3Dog sniffing and using other senses
Take your dog out on more than “just a walk.” Find places that are richly varied in terms of sounds, sights, textures, odors and more. A dog’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours and allowing him to “see” the world through olfactory senses can really stretch his mind (hence the popularity of scent work classes and competition). 
Rather than taking your dog on the same walk every day, along the same path or sidewalk, look for places that may have new smells, or an abundance of them, such as parks or forest trails you don’t usually go to. On the reverse side, find dog friendly urban walks to change up the pace. Consider taking your pooch to doggy daycare a few times a week as an enrichment activity.
4. Games toys and puzzles for dogs!
Games are a fun way of activating your dog’s mind, as well as building your relationship together and teaching your dog to see that spending time with you is the best reward ever! This is another opportunity to be creative – you can use variations on children’s games, such as hide-and-seek, or come up with brand new games based on what you have available and your dog’s interests. 
For example, if you have a dog that absolutely loves balls, and you have enough room for tossing it, you can create games that involve the retrieve, as well as mixing in some basic obedience behaviors. There are many types of interactive food toys and puzzles that you can use as well for the same purpose and they are not all just “food dispensers.” For some, the dog has to really think about how to get the food out of the various types of openings.
5. Bringing your dog out
Another way to stimulate your dog’s mind is to simply bring him out with you during your regular errands. Getting to see new faces, new places and a ride in the car can be very mentally challenging for a dog and also helps to reinforce socialization. Try taking your dog on trips to new places neither of you have been as well. Be sure that your dog can handle showing his good manners off in a crowd of strangers.To read the complete story go to
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