Did you know that 15 minutes of mental stimulation is equivalent to approximately 1 hour of walking? Working mentally is actually much more demanding for a dog than doing physical activities. According to some studies, the regular practice of mental stimulation increases the complexity and expression of dog behaviors, in addition to preventing unwanted behaviors. Dogs that are raised in a more stimulating environment are also calmer and less afraid of strangers and see their cognitive decline slowed down. It is therefore important to make them practice both types of activities every day in order to keep them zen and balanced. In this article, we share our favorite companies to help you find mental stimulation games, in addition to offering you “do-it-yourself” alternatives.
Canine stimulation with snuffle mats
In many dogs, the need to search for food is not satisfied since it is offered to them effortlessly in their usual bowl. Using a digging mat can restore this instinctual behavior of searching and hunting for food. It can therefore be used to feed the meal in a more stimulating way and to occupy your dog during bad weather. The snuffle mat slows down the ingestion of kibble, extends the duration of meals, stimulates intelligence and exhausts your dog. The Quebec company Stimulation Canine offers a variety of mats in all shapes and colors to suit all tastes!
Aikou for interactive toys
Interactive toys are objects in which you can insert treats or kibble. The dog will have to move or rotate the toys in order to be able to remove what is inside and feast. These allow you to mentally occupy your animal for several minutes without you being involved, to develop its cognitive abilities and to promote a more balanced behavior. Aikou offers several interactive toys such as dog balls and speed bumps.
Messy Mutts for Licking Pads
The licking mats, or licking mats, are designed so that your dog cannot grab the food with his teeth. He will therefore have to use his tongue instead, which makes it take much longer for him to eat all his food. Additionally, the licking action releases endorphins that help calm and soothe your pet, in addition to redirecting bad licking habits. Some mats have also been designed to be a fun and stimulating activity and thus combat boredom by motivating the dog to lick the food inside. Of course, this interactive game also slows down the rate at which your dog eats, ensuring better digestion and reducing bloating. The Messy Mutts company sells multiple licking mats in several sizes and colors to entertain and stimulate your dog to infinity!
It is also possible to make interactive toys with what you already have at home and thus recycle old objects that are not used. Here is a list of some ideas you could try:
- Spread your dog's food in an old egg carton and drop a ping-pong ball in each of the holes to block access;
- Take a laundry basket with holes and a beach towel so that the dog can sniff his food through the pieces of towel;
- Use 4 red plastic glasses and hide Green Paws under 2 of them to make your dog search;
- Put the Green Paws on a towel and roll it up to simulate a search mat.
No matter what game or activity you choose, incorporating mental stimulation into your dog's daily routine will undoubtedly benefit both him and you. You can even insert our Green Paws into some toys as a new way to give our great daily supplements!