The Importance of Physical and Mental Stimulation


Importance of Physical and Mental Stimulation

Bored Dogs

Lack of mental stimulation and physical exercise is crucial to your dog’s emotional and physical health.  Sadly, many dogs are forced to live a very sedentary/couch potato life as their owners are at work all day and/or busy with their own activities.  Dogs that don’t get enough physical and mental activity can suffer from depression, obesity, restlessness and hyperactivity.  They often lack focus and engage in behaviors such as excessive chewing, barking, jumping and digging as an outlet for their pent-up energy.  Lack of exercise and mental stimulation is extremely frustrating for dogs and can cause them to be reactive and sometimes even aggressive.

It is a common misconception that dogs who have a large backyard will exercise themselves or a 20-30 minute leisurely walk once or twice a day is enough exercise for a dog.  Although daily walks are important for socialization and mental stimulation, they are usually not enough to tire a dog out, especially a young active dog.

When developing a daily exercise program for your dog, you need to keep your dog’s breed, age and physical limitations in mind.  For example, a young Labrador Retrieve will need a lot more physical exercise than a Pug.   Find activities that your dog was bred for or enjoys. Hiking, fetching, jogging, swimming, play dates with other dogs, agility and flyball, and games such as hide and seek are all great forms of exercise that will provide your dog with a cardio workout.

In addition to physical exercise, your dog also needs daily mental stimulation to keep them happy and emotionally healthy.  Daily sniff walks, trick training, nose work (find it games), and  interactive and puzzle toys such as the Bob-A-Lot, Snuffle Mat, Brick, and Tornado are all great ways to provide your dog with needed mental stimulation.

We owe it to our dogs to provide them with what they need  to be happy, healthy and well behaved.  Make time everyday to give your dog the physical and mental stimulation they need to be the best dog they can be.  I bet you’ll find you both will benefit.