Are you interested in building your dog’s instinctual drive, create a fun environment, and improve their obedience all at the same time? Look no further than mental and physical exercises. But, first, let’s understand the importance of why these games and exercises matter before we dive in deeper into how to implement this.
Improvements of mental and physical games simply help keep your dog happy and engaged with you while wearing them out—which mean less behavior problems. Although, wearing the dog out is not the primary goal here, building a solid structure of physical, mental, and household management is.
Physical games and exercises can include fetch, chase, and jogging around the block. These games are important for maintaining healthy muscles, bones, and joints. Other benefits include weight management, brain clarity (stress management), cardiovascular longevity and more. Granted, all these physical games must come with structure and should be practiced with safety measures in mind, especially when it comes to overheating.
The primary focus for mental games is for brain development. When a dog works their brain, this relieves them from boredom and stress, builds their confidence, lowers aggressive tendencies, and keeps dogs mentally healthy. Mental games and exercises work to build their senses. These senses send information to the brain to help them understand and perceive the world around them. Dogs engage in the world differently than humans do.
For a dog, their noses possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors, while a human’s nose have nearly 6 million. That’s around 40 times greater than ours! Dogs have nearly twice as many frequencies to sound as humans. While humans can hear up to 20 feet away, dogs can hear up to 80 feet away. Dogs also hold the Olympic world record over humans in speed and duration. They are leaders in detecting diseases, explosives, illegal drugs, and other scents and have the ability to alert and assist handlers. We should give them credit much more than being our loyal lap dog. This species is impressive!
So, what can we do to understand our pup? We have to look into their breed, lifestyle, and energy. A German Shepherd will be more physically driven than a Bulldog. Just because you can run a few miles with a German Shepherd doesn’t mean a Bulldog has the ability to safely handle this; a Border Collie that lives on a ranch doesn’t have the same lifestyle of a Border Collie that lives in the city; and Schnauzer that you had in the past doesn’t fully represent the same energy levels of the Schnauzer you have now.
But it’s good to test out what your dog enjoys. There are a variety of sports (competitive and non-competitive) that dogs can engage in. If your dog loves social work, getting them into therapy work has great benefits to low stress dogs and to the public. Getting your dog into a training-based daycare will build on their ability to communicate with other people and dogs. Lastly, getting them into a group obedience class or private lesson program with a certified trainer also helps them become well mannered dogs in the community while building your bond and communication.
Other things you can do from home are to invest in interactive food puzzles and safe chews that are meant to last, play games like Hide and Seek and The Recall Game, or look into getting a Flirt Pole or a Bungee Toy you can stick to a tree or to your wooden/tiled floor. Toys are great mental builders and should be taught how to interact with them safely. Teach your dog cues like “take it”, “leave it”, and “drop it”.
Giving your dog an outlet to be a dog will keep them happy and relaxed at home. By implementing these techniques will create an overall success in your dog’s life and give you plenty of affectionate cuddles in the end.