Brain games for dogs to keep your dog mentally stimulated.

NOVEMBER 15TH / 2021
All dogs require exercise, both physical and mental. Often, the owners simply do not have time to captivate the pet enough due to a lack of time and energy. And then, returning home, they find gnawed furniture, eaten shoes, torn wallpaper, etc. Or the dog needs their attention all the time, when they are at home, bothers with a toy. Of course, you need to go walk with the dog to satisfy its need for activity. But there is one great way to help the owners, which does not require special efforts and money, but you can reduce or even avoid the destruction of the house in your absence. You can also keep your dog busy when you are at home and work quietly at home.

What mind games can give you and your dog:

- The dog will have no time to miss and yearn in your absence (howl, try to get out).

- The dog will be busy with toys, and then take a break from the intellectual games, and not gnaw your things, ruin the walls, sofas when it is left alone at home.

- This is the best solution if you need to make the dog busy in your presence, and you can work from home.

- With the help of these toys, you can switch the dog's attention from the guests to the game so that it does not react violently to them and does not bother.

- If you have children, it is a great solution to keep the dog occupied while you are fiddling with the child.

- The dog is developing intellectually.

- Develop the dog's self-confidence.

- Calm the dog.

- The dog uses its nose, and thereby you satisfy its need to find and work with its nose.

- The contact between you and your pet is improved if you play together.

Some usuful tips:

Treats for intellectual games must be very loved and desired! The dog must want to get it. It can be regular food if the dog loves it. Or it can be any treats that are selected individually for each dog. In Husse's range of treats there is a variety of flavors and shapes to suit any dog's needs.

Do not leave your dog alone with a toy so that it does not start using it as chewing gum or bone! For this purpose, we have in Husse the amazing chewing bars Dental L and S.

The dog may need your help: demonstration of how the game works (dogs can learn by observing your actions!). Revealing certain elements, etc.

Remember to pause: the dog should perceive play as a joyful and exciting experience, not a boring routine.

Combine games - this will make the game more varied and interesting.

SCATTER FEEDING AND SEARCH GAMES

One of the simplest games you can start with is scatter feeding. This encourages your dog to search for their food and helps encourage their natural foraging behaviours.

Scatter feeding is essentially what it sounds like. Instead of using a bowl, scatter your dog's food on the floor, around the house or in the garden. This is best done on a hard, easy to clean surface if being done indoors. As your dog gets better at using their nose to find the food, you can scatter it over a larger area or an uneven surface, like grass.

Once your dog has mastered this, you can start hiding small piles of food for them to find. Pick places you don't mind them rummaging, and where there's no danger of anything getting damaged. As they grow in confidence you can make the hiding places harder to find, or even hide the food underneath something like a plant pot.

If your dog is finding it too hard to find the food and starts to get frustrated, you can help them by taking them closer to the food or throwing treats near to them.

SHELL GAME

Dogs love this simple but challenging game because, as with all good games, there are treats involved. Take two opaque plastic cups and flip them upside down. With your dog watching, place a treat under one cup. Give your dog the cue to come turn over the cup and get the treat. Do these 8 or 10 times, giving your dog time to really understand the game. After the dog has caught on, alternate which cup you place the treat under. When your dog selects the correct cup, let it have the treat. If the dog doesn't select the correct cup (which will happen, even when it sees you placing the treat under the cup), show the dog the treat under the correct cup but don't let the dog have the treat. This will keep the dog focused on watching which cup you place the treat under so it can guess the correct cup. While the game may sound easy, for many dogs this requires some serious thinking.

If your dog masters this, it's time for even more of a challenge. Place a treat under the left cup, then slide the cups to switch places, so that the cup with the treat is now on your right. Release your dog to find the treat. If your dog selects the correct cup, give it the treat. If your dog doesn't select the correct cup, show it the treat but don't let the dog have it. Keep repeating this and see if your dog can figure out the trick. Some dogs may never quite get how the treat magically switches sides — this is a tough game that requires visual tracking and not all dogs make the connection. But if your dog does, bump up the challenge even more by swapping sides randomly. See if your dog can use its eyes, nose, and thinking skills to find the treat after the old switcheroo. Very few dogs will be successful at this challenging version of the game, so don't be discouraged if your dog isn't a whiz at the shell game.
ACTIVITY TOYS AND PUZZLE FEEDERS

There are lots of different toys and interactive feeders available that are designed to get your dog's brain working, but there are also plenty of things you can do with everyday items you have at home.

A toy that you can quickly make yourself is a destruction box. Simply fill an old cardboard box with scrunched up balls of paper, old toilet rolls, anything that's safe for your dog to tear up and then scatter their dry food and some of their favourite toys in and around the box. This is best done outside, or on a hard, easy to clean surface as it can get quite messy.

Whatever you choose, make sure you start off at an easy level. If your dog is finding it too hard to get their food, they might lose interest and give up.

Activity toys like Husse Syssla or Kägel encourage your dog to get active as they need to move them around to get the food out.

Puzzle feeders are similar but require your dog to do some problem solving. These can be a little trickier, so you might have to show your dog what to do if they are struggling or teach them some other skills first such as picking things up or pulling them.

TOY STUFFING

Toy stuffing is another way of making mealtimes more engaging. Toys that you stuff with food, like the Husse Syssla or Kägel toys, are made from 100% natural rubber and come in different sizes to suit your dog.

Start by filling the toy with dried food that will fall out fairly easily. Once your dog is comfortably getting this food out, you can gradually make things a little more challenging. You can either soak some of the dry food first or plug the end with tinned meat so that they have to really work to get the dry biscuit in the middle.

As your dog gets used to using the stuffed toy, you can increase the difficulty by packing them tighter and using sticky substances such as Husse Adult pate or peanut butter. You could also try adding various items to the stuffing mix such as fruit, vegetables, treats, fresh meat, spreadable cheese, pate etc. Variety and changing the mixture will keep their interest. The tighter you pack the food, the more challenging it will be for your dog. Just remember to put the tastiest food at the other end to spark their interest and encourage them to eat all the way through.

You can even try freezing the food inside the toy using water or gravy. This will help it to last even longer and is a nice treat on a hot day. Just make sure you give this to your dog on a hard, easy to clean surface.

Slow feeder or Lick Mats for Dogs

Lick mats are a type of enrichment toy for dogs and cats, like puzzle toys. These mats come in various shapes and sizes, and the concept is designed for you to apply a dog-friendly snack, like Husse Adult pate, peanut butter, soft banana, or yogurt to the mat to encourage your dog to lick it up. Some are designed as slow feeders (Husse Skal) and hold kibble to help slow down dogs who hoover their meals.

Food-motivated dogs will become determined to lick up the last bit of treat or extract the very last kibble, while the repetitive licking provides a calming effect that is generally soothing to dogs and can also be helpful to distract pets from anxiety-inducing situations, such as thunderstorms and fireworks.
And, of course, the toy simply keeps pets busy for a while as it helps to stave off boredom.

Stay health and develop your dog's intelligence!


Written by Maria Potekha, Husse Pet Food Portsmouth

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