Wednesday, January 16, 2019

7 Ways To Mentally Stimulate Your Dog

Is your pooch getting bored of their same old routine? If so, try adding in some of these fun brain games to help keep them moving and stimulated! It’s also a great way for you and your four-legged friend to bond. 

Mental stimulation not only enhances our dogs’ life by giving them something meaningful to do, but it also eases their boredom, decreasing the likelihood of them developing behavioral issues such as excessive chewing or barking.

Have Your Dog Work for Their Food

We like to think dogs have it pretty easy when it comes to meal time. Their bowl just gets set down and we let them go at it. Although there is nothing wrong with this, it is, however, limiting the use of their natural scavenging habits. So, a great place to start when adding some mental stimulation to your dog’s routine would be their feeding. Instead of just handing over their food, you can make a fun game out of it for your dog.

A common favorite is using a food dispensing toy, such as the Kong Wobbler, where you place your dog’s meals in the toy and they have to roll it around in order to get the food to come out of the hole. Before you ask, yes – it can be a bit noisy, but it’s well worth it when you see how satisfying it is for your dog.

Get Your Dog a Puzzle Toy

Puzzle toys are an easy way to keep your dog busy & entertained. One extra 15-minute game a day can make a huge difference to your dog. It gives them something to focus on and lets your dog use some of their natural problem-solving abilities. By keeping your dog engaged with interactive toys you can help boost their confidence & tire them out mentally.
Keep in mind not all puzzle toys are loved equally by all dogs. We suggest looking into what puzzles are available and what would be best suited for your pooch. No one knows what your dog likes quite like you do. 

Teach Your Dog Some New Tricks

Is you fur-friend a trick expert? Have they mastered the art of stay, come here & lay down? Well, if they are, the good news is there’s a lot more you can teach them that goes beyond the basics. Whether your dog is completely new to this or an expert of the trade, there’s always something new to learn with tricks. 

Teaching your dog, a new trick or command is great for mental stimulation, and it can be particularly helpful with shy or fearful dogs. All that training will help boost your dog’s confidence, and it strengthens the bond between dog & owner. Learning new commands can also help increase your dog’s focus and impulse control – aka doggy manners. 

Play Some Nose Work Games

According to a lot of pup-parents, one of their dogs’ favorite activities is basic nose work games. Having your dog use their nose to find things is a really simple way to help them hone in on their natural skills. And all that searching will provide your dog with a lot more mental stimulation in their daily routine. A common game owners play with their fur-friends is hide and seek, but with food. All you need to do is chop up some food you know your pooch will eat and then hide it throughout the house. We recommend something with a strong smell as it might take them a few tries to really get the hang of it.

Keep it fun & exciting for them by praising them every time they find a treat. After they get the hang of it you can start hiding them in harder to find spots, encouraging them to use their nose more and rely less on visuals.

Make an Obstacle Course for Your Dog

Teaching your dog how to go through an obstacle course is not only a nice mental workout for them but it can be a great form of exercise. Don’t worry if you don’t have any agility jumps or poles at home; you can make your own, or just use some stuff in your house as alternatives.

You can teach your dog to ‘go to your blanket,’ ‘jump over this broomstick’ or ‘weave’ through cones. Whatever commands work with what you’ve got set up. Obstacle courses are a great way to really mentally stimulate your dog as you’re not just asking them to do one thing, you’re asking them to do one thing after another – really getting them to focus and concentrate on the task at hand. 

Teach Your Dog the Names of Their Toys

Another great activity is to teach your dog the names of their toys. The first step is making sure your dog knows the name of the item you’re going to be hiding. If you’re starting with a certain toy we recommend sitting down with them & that toy and tell your pooch what the toys name is – i.e. blue bunny. As soon as they touch it or grab it praise them for being a good boy! 

Once you’ve done this a few times you can add in a different toy. Just be sure to go slowly to ensure that your dog knows exactly what ‘blue bunny’ is before you move on to another. When your dog knows the name of a few items you have them go find an array of different toys based on their names. 

Teach Your Dog the Shell Game 

Lastly, we’ve got a very common dog game that owners and dogs alike seem to love – the shell game. To play this game you just need three small cups and a delicious treat broken into small pieces. Next, you’ll need to get your dog's undivided attention and as they watch, carefully line up the cups in a straight row. Grab a treat piece and hold it up to show them, lift one of the cups, then place the treat beneath it. Now start shuffling the cups around, and you'll notice your dog is following the one with the treat with their eyes. When you stop your shuffle, let your dog guess which cup has the treat. If they are right, they get the treat. If not, the game starts over again.

It may take some time to train your dog to play the game, but it is a great form of stimulation and bonding time. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

7 Things No One Tells You Before Getting A Dog

Before welcoming a dog into your home, chances are, much like an expecting parent, you need all the information you can get. We all know having a dog is going to be a fulfilling experience, but there are a few things that you might not know about being a pet parent. We’re here to let you know the not-so-commonly mentioned information.

Dog Hair Gets Everywhere

You may think that just because your dog has short hair you won’t have to worry about shedding; well that’s very optimistic of you. Unfortunately, almost all dogs shed. Be prepared to find dog hair in your oven, on your mirror and in that suitcase you’ve yet to use. It’s going to get everywhere. A great way to combat this inevitable problem is to groom your pooch regularly to ensure minimal shedding all over the house.

Dogs Don’t Like Their Routines Disturbed

If your usual wake up time during the week is 6am, good luck trying to sleep till 10am on the weekends as your dog might have other plans for you. They love their routines, and many dogs aren’t shy about waking you up if you sleep longer than they deem necessary. For some dogs, this distaste towards change can be more than you waking up late. It can be a change in when you arrive home from work, what time you usually feed them to even a rearrangement in furniture!  

All Dogs Have Different Personalities 

Every dog has its own personality and its own preferences, so attempting to fit a dog into a specific mold just isn't going to happen. Before you get your pooch, make sure you do some basic research on the characteristic and traits of each breed.  Besides breed differences, each dog has its own way of handling and reacting to situations too. Once you’ve got your dog, you’ll realize their personalities aren’t too different from ours. 

There Will Be an Adjustment Period

There will be an adjustment period for the both of you, and sometimes, you’ll feel like the worst pet parent ever. Leaving for work suddenly becomes so much harder. Your pup might have accidents, freak out in their new surroundings, or feel uneasy being alone. More often then not, owners end up feeling guilty for it. It’ll take a while for both of you to get used to each other and get into a routine but, that will pass with time.

Emergencies and Accidents Will Probably Happen

You can budget as much as you want for all the supplies, food and accessories you need but no one ever mentions the unexpected vet bills. We all hope that we aren’t the ones faced with these emergencies, that we often don’t take them into account when planning. Accidents are inevitable, that’s just a fact, so we suggest putting money away as soon as you can to avoid any hidden costs later on.

Start Training Early

The best way to get a fully trained pooch is by starting early.  Dogs are most adaptable to training methods during their juvenile stage as that is when they begin to adopt behavior they will carry into adulthood. Simple obedience commands can be taught from about 7 weeks, whereas formal training usually begins around 6 months.  If you’re not getting a puppy, the next best time to start training is now! Just remember to not get fixated on one type of training philosophy. Find what works best for you and your dog and go from there. It’s all a process. 

Unconditional Love

Although we’ve all been told that dogs are truly man’s best friend, you won’t fully understand that until you get a pooch of your own. You’ll develop a relationship, unlike anything you thought possible. Your dog will love you unconditionally. No matter your mood, how you look or how corny your jokes. Your dog thinks you are the best person in the universe.