Want a happy and healthy dog? Trainer shares six cost-effective ways to keep your pup mentally stimulated

Woman playing outside with her excited Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
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Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the video cited below.

If you've been pondering the question 'do dogs get bored?', the answer is...absolutely! 

Just like any human or animal, our canine companions need plenty of mental and physical stimulation each week to ensure they stay fit and well.

Which is why learning how to play with a dog is so important. 

While tossing a ball for your pup when you're out on a walk is certainly a legitimate way to exercise them, there are loads of other things you can do to add fun and variety into your dog's day.

Read on as expert trainer and behaviorist Louise Glazebrook reveals a few of her favorites...

"There's heaps of ways we can stimulate our dogs and pups," says Glazebrook. "Here's just a few examples for you to aim to include on a weekly basis..."

1. Food dispensing toys: Glazebrook says any puzzle toy where your dog has to work to release the food is great for providing stimulation and enrichment. However, she says it's important not to use these if your pup has resource guarding issues or is food frantic.

2. Scent work: "This is brilliant for dogs that were built to use their nose. It's also a great way to calm down and reduce stress for dogs. Every dog in the world can benefit from this," says Glazebrook.

3. Chewing activities: When it comes to stress relief, it's hard to go past chewing. Glazebrook says it's also a brilliant pain reliever and can help calm tired dogs down. Check out our guide to the best dog toys for inspiration. 

4. Destruction: Yes, you read that right! According to Glazebrook, shredding, ripping and pulling apart all offer your pup great mental stimulation. "This is amazing for dogs who love to complete a job," she says. "Try not to worry about the mess, it can be tidied up after."

5. Problem solving: "Try a game or a task that your dog needs to use their skills to solve," suggests Glazebrook. "This will vary from dog to dog based on what they love to do."

6. Training: "Teaching your dog new things or ways of doing things or games is rewarding and trust building. Don't try to win them all, no one wants to play with someone who always wins!"

According to Glazebrook, variety is the spice of life and dogs love to mix things up just as much as we humans do — so if you want to banish boredom, letting your dog engage in one of the above activities each day is a great way to do that.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.