You walk your dog every day, but are you giving him the opportunity to exercise his mind? Here’s how to make sure he’s getting enough mental stimulation.
Your dog’s mind is always at work. Next time you’re on a walk, pay attention to the way he stops, lifts his muzzle into the air, and takes a few seconds to absorb his surroundings. It might seem like he’s doing it for no reason, but it’s his way of sensing something of interest. As dog guardians, it’s our responsibility to allow our dogs to use these instincts. After all, dogs require mental stimulation in order to thrive just like we do! Below are four things you can do to exercise your dog’s mind.
1. Give him at least six feet of free-range walking room
If you continually tug on your dog’s leash, you’re essentially denying him the right to be a dog! Make sure he’s properly leash trained and give him the freedom to smell what he wants to smell when you’re out on a stroll. Better yet, make sure his recall skills are up to snuff and let him run off-leash in safe areas like parks and nature trails.
2. Practice tricks on-the-go
Make your walk more exciting by asking him to sit, lie down and spin every now and again! Not only will performing tricks encourage good behavior, it’ll keep his mind working during your exercise session. Be sure to carry small treats in your pocket and reward him for being obedient!
3. Let him engage with other dogs
Socializing is an important part of your dog’s mental health. When you’re out on walks, allow him to sniff other four-legged passersby if it’s okay with their guardians. To eliminate any negative situations, teach him to stay calm around strange dogs, and again, always praise him for good behaving during interactions.
4. Go on adventures!
If your walking route is the same day after day, your dog will eventually get bored. To engage his senses and keep him on his toes, plan to switch it up! If possible, take your dog on outdoor adventures where he can run off-leash, engage with other dogs, and see things he’s never seen before. Hike to a nearby waterfall or try a new dog park. The more he explores, the more engaged his mind will be.
Every dog deserves a chance to use his instinct and abilities. Why not go the extra mile and exercise his body and his mind on a daily basis? It’s a gift for everyone!
Gerry Ellen is a freelance creative writer, a contributor author and blogger for several publications, a published author of three nonfiction books, a marketing copywriter, and a wellness entrepreneur. You can find her portfolio here: gerryellenavery.com. Gerry Ellen’s wellness work, alongside her beloved pup Scout, can be found here: eightpawswellness.squarespace.com