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Dogs and mental stimulation: 9 tips and activities to provide your dog with mental stimulation.

Dogs and mental stimulation: 9 tips and activities to provide your dog with mental stimulation.

terrier type of dog holding a stuffed pig toy in its mouth

Dogs need mental stimulation in their lives as much as physical stimulation. But unfortunately, dogs get bored, and destructive habits may arise with boredom. A bored dog will find ways to entertain themselves, which might show up as undesirable traits such as whining, digging, chewing, tail chasing, and excessive barking. To prevent boredom, provide your dog with some brain games. Mental stimulations for your dog can range from daily walks to agility training to interactive toys. Below you will find nine tips and activities to help you get started on providing your dog with some mental stimulation. These will encourage healthy behaviors and increase the enrichment of their lives.

Turn your daily walk into exploration and get stimulated

Daily walks provide physical and mental exercise for your dog. Dogs use the sense of smell and vision to perceive the environment. Think of all the different scents a dog gets to experience when outside. Talk about getting their synapsis fired up. Smelling and deciphering the smell requires lots of brainpower, providing your dog with mental stimulation. To keep things interesting, change up the routine and take different routes. Give your dog time to explore and smell the area. Let them take in the smells and remember they are gathering lots of information regarding the environment around them.

Have your dog work for treats 

Hiding treats and then having your dog search for them is a great way to get their noses involved and provide some mental stimulation. You can start easy by hiding one treat in a closed hand and having them choose between your hands. Next, you can begin hiding treats throughout the house to increase the difficulty and eventually move to hide treats outside the home. Then, get creative with camouflaging the goodies and make your dog use those powerful noses to find them. 

Interactive Toys and Brain Games 

dog laying on floor surrounded by dog toys

Dogs love toys, and interactive toys are another way to make your dog work for a treat. The toys consist of sturdy plastic with an opening. You put treats inside the space, and your dog will have to roll the toy around to dispense the treat. Essentially, your dog has to solve the puzzle, which creates mental stimulation for your dog. You can check out Amazon's list of interactive toys to get some ideas. 

Rotate the Toys to Prevent Boredom

Just like kids, dogs get bored of the same toys every day. So try rotating your dog's toys. If possible, try to give them a new one every few weeks. Take advantage of dog toy sales and stock up but only give your dog one new toy at a time. Then, put the old toy back into the toy rotation, and in a few weeks, you can provide that one again. Rotating the toys keeps the toys exciting and stimulating while providing mental stimulation to your dog. 

Arrange Play Dates for Mental Stimulation 

Socialization is great for a dog's mental state so if you know someone with a dog, arrange a play date. Remember to go slow when introducing potential new dog friends and continuously monitor your dog's behavior to ensure everyone gets along.

Dog Parks  

Dog parks are another way to get socialization and have some off-leash time. Remember, dog parks can be overwhelming with new dogs and smells. If it is your dog's first time, you might want to keep them on a leash until they are comfortable with the environment.


Running Errands

If you can, take your dog with you while running errands. Getting them out of the house will provide your dog with a change of scenery and offer mental stimulation. If you plan to visit a business, remember to check if they are pet friendly. If visiting a friend, ask if you can bring your dog.

Obedience Training and Mental Stimulation 

3 dogs standing at attention looking at someone

Simple obedience training will give your dog an excellent mental workout. Teaching your dog the basic commands such as "sit," "stay," and "come" gives them manners and mental stimulation. If your dog has mastered simple obedience, you can move on to more complex commands and tricks.

Agility Training and Mental Stimulation 

Agility training provides your dog with a combination of physical and mental stimulation. You can make your agility course, teach your dog how to go through it, and reward your dog with treats. Most areas have agility training classes if you don't have the space to set up an obstacle course at your house.


In conclusion, your dog needs mental stimulation to enrich their lives fully. Mental stimulation provides an escape from boredom while offering healthy alternatives for channeling energy.


If you have a senior dog in your life, check out our blog Tips for Caring for Your Elderly Dog