4 Ways to give your dog mental exercise

Mental exercise can save your couch cushions, your shoes, and can alleviate your dog’s anxiety when you leave home (it can also replace physical exercise when the weather doesn’t cooperate).

The good news is that mental exercise is relatively easy, and doesn’t require a ton of effort on your part!

• Stuff a Kong. This is a good one for when your dog goes into his crate, or when you are leaving the house, and is probably the easiest one to do. Get a Kong, put some treats or kibble in it, seal it with peanut butter, and put it in the freezer until you need it. If you only have one dog, you can give it to her before you leave in the morning, and she can eat through the peanut butter to her breakfast! This is not a good idea if you have two dogs, no matter how well they share and get along when you are there. All bets are off with a high value treat like a peanut butter Kong!

• Puzzle toys. Ranging from somewhat easy to difficult, the nice thing about Kyjen puzzle toys is that you can modify them to first train your dog how to use them, and then make it more challenging once your dog gets the hang of it.

• “Find it.” Hide your dog’s favorite toys or bone around the house and tell them to “find it.” You might have to help them out at first. You can also play “find it” with people – have one person hide and then have your dog find the person. This is also great practice for the command “come”.

• K9 Nose work. K9 Nose Work is a newer craze for the companion dogs, and it basically a modified version of scent training that police dogs and rescue dogs go through. Visit the K9 Nose Work website to search for trainers in your area that might be offering classes, but the beginning stages are pretty easy to do!