With this, you're sure your dog will pass out at night.
The 30 secs summary
Physical exercise is not the only way to exhaust your dog.
Mental games will make your dog smarter. They are often more tiring than a walk. The games can take different forms, from learning commands to playing with puzzle toys and more.
They will strenghten your relationship with your dog and are actually fun to play. You can find games ideas below.
This being said, your dog still needs physical exercise, but you should include games in your daily routine.
The full article
Every dog needs to spend energy one way or another during the day.
Physical exercise is needed of course, but it's only half of the equation.
You've read right...
The other half is mental stimulations.
But this is the ultimate hack, trust me!
15mins of mental games will exhaust your dog just as much as a 1hour walk.
Adding mental games to your daily routine with your dog will help you avoid some of the excessive barking, destroying the house, destroying toys & eating socks.
Where to start?
Make some room in a day for games. If your schedule is tight, you might wanna trade a walk for a game. It's well worth it!
However, if you have a bit more time, try to do two games a day.
One would be an active game and the other a passive game.
What are active games for dogs?
The active games are the ones where you play the game with your dog. They require you to be present. They contribute to strenghten the bond between the two of you.
Here are 3 ideas of active games:
Teach new tricks
Your dog is never too old to learn new stuff. So here's a list of essential tricks your dog must know (dog trainers agree on this):
- A strong recall
- Leave it
- Drop it
- Look at me
(how to teach those tricks is a topic for another day)
Once per week, you can make it exciting by practicing the tricks your dog already knows in different environments.
The Shell Game
This is a fun & easy game anyone can play. It requires very little preparation. It will develop your dog's problem-solving skills.
I could explain it but this video does it better:
Rule out game
This one will teach your dog self-control. It's super useful (but clearly not the most exciting). It requires only treats.
Once again, a video explains it better than I do:
-Rule out Game by McCann Training
Finally, I would alternate these active games throughout the week to keep it exciting for both you and your dog.
What are passive games for dogs?
The passive games are the ones that your dog can play when you are not around. Here are some examples:
Hide n Seek
I play this game almost every time I leave the house. First, you need to put your pup in a different room. Then, you go around and hide some treats around the room.
I hide some in corners, in Belle's crate, in stairs, on chairs, etc. It's time to fire that creative brain of yours!
The next and final step is to let your dog inside and ask to "search". You might need to helpo your dog find the first treat. It will help them understand the game.
On average, Belle will search around for 20-30mins. This game drains the energy out of her.
The name says it all! These toys are designed to keep your dog busy with "complex" problems. Food is the motivation here. Personally I use a dog snuffle mat. I will fill it with kibble and let Belle play with it for 15mins. If you leave it for too long, your dog will lose interest in it.
There's a ton of puzzle toys that are great at stimulating your dog's brain. You can find them on amazon or at your local pet shop.
I don't think you need to buy a puzzle toy right away.
Try one of these DIY puzzle toys(I wish the video was shorter but it's 12mins).
If your dog loves it or you eventually run out of exciting games, consider buying one.
How long should a game be?
For both active and passive games, 15mins is good. At first especially, it will be hard for your pup to stay focused more than 15mins.
Let's wrap this email with a little challenge! It doesn't matter if games are already part of your routine or they are new to you. Try it out!
until next time,
P.S. If you want more ideas like these, sign up for my emails below. I fire an email twice/week.