Mentally stimulating activities are important to your beloved pet’s health and wellbeing. These activities challenge the mind, and many are also an excellent form of physical exercise too. If your pet is not mentally stimulated, they can become bored and may start to develop a wide range of behavioural problems. Continue reading to find some fun and simple ways to keep your pet’s mind occupied and their hunting instincts well exercised.
Why is mental stimulation important?
Incorporating mental stimulation into your pet’s daily routine gives them something meaningful to do. This can help alleviate boredom and support their health in numerous ways, including preventing weight gain, strengthening the cardiovascular health & muscles, reducing digestive problems and keeping the brain active. Since these activities alleviate boredom, they can also decrease the likelihood of your pet developing destructive behaviour, such as chewing shoes and furniture, disrupting your sleep for an impromptu play session, or separation anxiety.
Seven simple ways to keep your pet mentally stimulated
Give them puzzle toys.
There are many puzzle toys available that are specifically designed for pets. These give your pet a chance to use some of their natural problem-solving abilities and can also help boost their confidence and tire them out mentally. For instance, you can stuff a treat hider toy or treat dispenser toy with your pet’s favourite treat. Your pet will then have to paw, shake, nibble, roll or lick the toy to access the food inside. This activity encourages creative thinking, and the released treat serves as a special reward for your pet’s efforts.
Play with them.
Playing with your pet is a great way to give their brain a good workout, and it can also help nurture your bond with them! For your dog, consider pulling one end of a tug of war toy and letting them pull on the other end. This is both a physically and mentally stimulating game as it teaches impulse control. For your cat, consider moving a special cat wand in front of them. This can encourage them to hunt, chase, and play with the toy attached to the wand, which can help keep your feline friend healthy and alert.
Let them work for their food.
If you want to exercise your pet’s brain, try switching up their feeding routine by using a slow feeder bowl. The ridges in these bowls can turn mealtime into a fun challenge. They can also help promote better digestion by slowing down your pet’s eating. Snuffle mats and LickiMats are also great options when it comes to mentally stimulating your pet and keeping them entertained at mealtime.
Take your dog for a walk.
Walking is great physical exercise, but for your dog it is also about sensory enrichment. While you may have walked the route before, each day presents new and exciting smells for your dog to explore. It is therefore important to stop along the way so that your dog can sniff their surroundings. A longer leash such as the Alcott Adventure Retractable Leash gives your dog more freedom to stop and take in these smells. While exploring the great outdoors, consider popping by an off-leash area to increase your dog’s mental stimulation with a fun game of fetch. This Skipdawg Ball Launcher has a unique zigzag design on the handle so that you can throw balls much further and let your pet exercise within greater range.
Consider agility training for your dog.
For the ultimate mental (and physical) stimulation, try agility training. You can set up an obstacle course in your backyard with objects from around the house, such as boxes for your dog to jump over and cones to weave between. This can help tire your dog and keep them busy. Once they understand the concept, reward him/her with treats and lots of praise & affection. Explore our exciting selection of dog treats here.
Increase your cat’s vertical space.
Create a mentally stimulating indoor environment for your cat with a cat tree. From scratching logs and play tunnels, to towers and hanging toys, this piece of furniture gives your cat something to climb, jump on, scratch, and explore. Consider sprinkling some catnip on certain areas of the cat tree for added enrichment. View our exciting selection of cat trees from Pet Rebels and Scratzme.
Pet day care.
Pet day care facilities usually offer a variety of physically and mentally stimulating activities that suit different pet personalities. This can provide a nice change of scenery for your pet as well as socialisation, another key component of mental stimulation and development.
Interactive toys for mental stimulation
Your beloved pet can get tired of playing with the same toys every day. Consider rotating their toys or try to give them a new toy that will mentally enrich them.
Here are our recommendations for cats:
All for Paws Classic Comfort Mouse Wand | Wave, twitch, flutter and circle this wand in front of your cat to keep them entertained. The catnip infused mouse toy attached to the wand also makes a chirping sound to imitate real prey.
Pet Rebels Cat Tree Victoria 125 | This cat tree is compact in size but fully equipped to keep your cat stimulated. It has three 12-centimeter thick scratching posts, two lounge baskets with cushions, a play tunnel and a lovely sleeping cave too for afternoon naps.
Olly & Max Traditional Scratch Post | This multifunctional cat scratcher has a cave for hide-and-seek games, a scratching post for clawing, a fun ball & rope toy for playtime and a plush perch for comfortable cat naps.
Zee.Cat Feather Teaser | This teaser cat toy has a weighted base that moves back and forth which is great for self-play, while the feather and bell detail provides added fun for your cat.
Here are our recommendations for dogs:
GiGwi Pull Me Out (Raccoon) | Stuff the bottom half of this toy with treats, then challenge your dog to figure out how to access these treats by closing the Velcro straps.
Beeztees SUMO Play | Due to its unusual shape, this durable rubber toy bounces in all sorts of unexpected directions to stimulate your dog. You can fill it with a tasty snack to provide your dog with a long-lasting, mentally stimulating task.
Skipdawg Ball Launcher | With a unique zigzag design on the handle, this ball launcher allows you to throw balls twice as far which lets your dog exercise within greater range.
Olly & Max Slow Feeder Bowl (Grey) | Turn your dog's meal into a challenging game with this slow feeder bowl. The barriers can also help slow down your dog’s eating and may help improve digestion.
GiGwi Tug Hercules (Deer) | Hold the handle of this toy and let your dog bite the rope ring to start a great game of tug of war. The squeaker and crinkle paper sounds add to the fun and excitement.
We hope you have found this article helpful. Remember, if you need any assistance please don't hesitate to pop into any one of our stores to speak to a Pet Care Advisor or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
Happy & Healthy