Mental stimulation is extremely important, and often overlooked. Dogs are always thinking, and when there is a lack of mental stimulation they become bored. Boredom in dogs is trouble. When they’re bored they will find ways to entertain themselves….and we tend to not be in favor of their creative endeavors. (Think holes chewed in drywall, expensive shoes becoming expensive chew toys, digging to china etc.) It is important to feed the need for mental stimulation with more constructive outlets.
Providing interactive toys is one of the easiest ways to provide these constructive outlets. Interactive toys are not bones… they’re not squeaky toys or stuffed animals. They’re puzzles. Fido thinks to himself: “How do I get that food out of there????”
Mental stimulation is super important when teaching a dog to love their crate and when they’re being left alone to avoid anxiety. Think about 2 people being left alone in 2 identical closets for 4 hours. Person #1 is given a computer that is hooked up to the internet. Person #2 is left with a teddy bear. Unless person #2 is entertained extremely easily (and already a little whack-a-doo), person #1 will receive much more stimulation and will be able to tolerate the 4 hour closet time day after day with much more ease.
Instead of feeding your dog out of a bowl, get them an interactive toy and feed them out of that when possible. Instead of 2 minutes (with some 20 seconds) and it’s gone, they will spend 20 minutes to an hour getting all of their food out. Not only are they getting mental stimulation the whole time, but they’re getting physical exercise and satisfying their natural hunt drive.