Most people are aware that dogs need a minimum amount of physical activity on a daily basis. Each dog will be different with regards to what will set the standard for that minimum level, and these differences will be a factor of age, weight, health issues and energy levels of the dog.
Some dog breeds require more activity than others to keep all that physical energy in check. Interestingly enough, most of the very large breeds are the lower physical activity dogs while some of the terriers and even the toy dogs may have significantly higher physical activity needs.
The Need for Mental Stimulation
While the need to provide physical stimulation and exercise may be evident for dog owners, many don’t realize that a dog needs to have daily mental exercises as well. Again, as with physical requirements, different breeds may need a higher level of mental stimulation to avoid turning all that energy into getting into mischief.
Mental stimulation for dogs can include a range of different things. Dogs that have time to socialize with other dogs get mental stimulation, as do dogs that routinely interact with their human family members. However, it is not just the interaction that is important, is to provide a challenge to the dog.
Dogs that do not receive mental stimulation can begin to show signs of behavior problems. Combining a lack of physical and mental stimulation results in problematic behaviors such as barking, digging, chewing and even dogs that may develop unhealthy patterns of behavior such as chasing their tails, licking or chewing at their coat or skin.
Combining the Two
By combining both physical and mental stimulation dog owners and their four-legged friends can have the best of both worlds. Some great activities that are perfect for this include taking walks with Dog in new locations, walking with other dogs and their owners, taking an obedience class or perhaps getting involved in agility classes, doggy freestyle dancing classes or in any type of training or activity.
Many dogs will even enjoy sports such as Flyball, Frisbee dog events or even just learning a new trick or activity. Going in the car when the weather is cool and even meeting new people, and new pets is a great way to provide mental stimulation.
There is also a growing market in dog toys that allow dogs to solve puzzles and to work through challenges to get a treat. Some of these combine the mental stimulation with rolling or moving, which is also a great way to give your dog something to do when you can’t be there.