Mental Stimulation or Brain Games for your pup
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Most dogs don’t get enough mental stimulation to be satisfied and happy. Behavior problems are nearly always the result.
Mental stimulation is NOT the same thing as physical stimulation. Many websites, books and dog trainers preach the religion of “a tired dog is a good dog.” I do not accept this as the truth, and as a matter of fact I feel that this is possibly a dangerous assumption. Dogs that are heavily physically exercised but do not have adequate outlets for mental stimulation suffer from an imbalance…an imbalance that can potentially create larger behavior problems.
For example you take your dog jogging 5 miles every day. His physical exercise needs are met, and met well. But you don’t give him any mental stimulation, and he’s bored. Now you have created a marathon athlete who is BORED and looking for stuff to do to meet his mental needs. He certainly has the stamina to find bad stuff to do now, since he’s so amazingly physically fit! This means he’ll be able to chew up 20 shoes instead of just one!
Think about it in a human perspective. I will use myself as an example…I love to read books, watch movies, write, surf the Internet, shop on EBay, paint, talk to my friends, have a few drinks now and then around the fire, etc. Do you think that I could replace the satisfaction that I get from these activates with physical stimulation? Heck no. Try telling me to run on the treadmill instead of watching a good movie! They two don’t even compare.
If you took all of the activities I listed above and removed them from my life, isolated me with nothing to do except eat, sleep, and run on the treadmill…I would not be happy, and I would slowly go insane. We do this to dogs all the time, and they slowly go insane as a result. When they start to go insane, their behavior bothers us. We need to offer mental stimulation to have a “good dog.” If we don’t offer it, they will try to get it themselves (and this is where the shoe-chewing, wallpaper stripping, excessive excitability, obsessive/compulsive behaviors start to show up and bother the heck out of us).
You do not need to take hours out of your day to provide adequate amounts of mental stimulation. If you begin to provide more mental stimulation, you will probably notice that your dog is more settled, less restless, less hyperactive, less attention-seeking, and guess what? He won’t need massive amounts of physical exercise just to make him tolerable to be around. Balance is key!!! Some of the items below even allow you to kill two birds with one stone (mental stimulation and physical exercise together). ALL of the items below increase your interaction with your dog, as well, and that is always positive. All of the items below increase your control and training of the dog, too.