Create Opportunities for Your Dog to Think!

“A tired dog is a well behaved dog”

Have you ever heard that expression?  When dogs have to think and use their brains, it tires them out.  In fact, mental exercise wears dogs out more quickly than physical exercise. It can be so easy to build a little mental workout into your dog’s day, and spending some time properly training your dog is a great way to do it! In the winter in this area, your dog is probably not getting the same physical exercise that he would in the warmer months, and that can take its toll on behavior. So increasing your dog’s mental stimulation during this season can help to keep his behavior in check.

Below are some easy ways to add more mental stimulation to your dog’s routine:

Educational toys: Most of these are treat-based.  The dog has to figure out how to do some kind of task to release a yummy treat.  My dogs’ favorite educational toy is the GameChanger (  It’s great for them to chew on and has that “reflex” feeling so many dogs enjoy in tennis balls.  It’s got a bit of weight to it so that they get a little cardiovascular workout as they are rolling, batting, and tossing the GameChanger around.  And, then, of course, they get the mental workout of figuring out how to get the treats!

Dog training exercises:  If you hire me to help train your dog, we’ll be working on a variety of exercises to help improve your communication with your dog, build trust and respect, and to establish you as your dog’s leader or parent figure.  Practicing these daily for as little as 5 minutes will give your dog some much needed mental stimulation.  You will be amazed at what a difference it can make to give your dog more mental stimulation! I don’t use a lot of commands in my training, because dogs don’t use commands either. However, teaching your dogs commands or tricks can be a great way to build some mental activity into the day. So, think of commands as a fun and productive way to interact with your dog.

Games:  Hide a treat.  Play hide and go seek with your dog.  Check out the many resources on for exercising and entertaining your dog indoors and outdoors.

Slow down:  Give your dog time and space to think and make choices!  A great place to try this is at the front door, when you’re preparing to go out with your dog.  As your dog waits for you to exit first, experiment by drawing out the amount of time before you release him to follow you.  Wait long enough until you can tell the “wheels are turning” and you see the results of the dog’s thought process.  For instance, he might choose to relax and sit or lay down to wait for you (excellent choice!) or he might turn and walk away (also a great choice!) or he might choose to make a break for it and scoot out ahead of you to try and bolt out the door (wrong choice!).  If he makes the wrong choice, refocus him and show and guide him so that he understands what the desired behavior was, and then give him an opportunity to try again.  If he makes the right choice, let him know with love and praise!

I’d love to help you with your dog’s behavior! Take a look at my website to learn more about how I can help you get your dog’s behavior under control.

Contact me for more tips on giving your dog more mental exercise!   Learn how I can help you with dog training so your dog can be the best and most relaxed canine companion for you.

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