Most dogs were bred for a purpose, and most of the time that purpose is not going to be to lay around in your house and give you kisses and eat treats all day (though that sounds like perfection). If you are looking for ways to challenge your dog, whether it be his mind, his body, or both of you as a pair, there are a few things you can do.
Work on a new trick. Contrary to the popular saying, you actually can teach an old dog new tricks. Work on treat training first (the way you would if he were still an itsy bitsy little puppy), then go more in depth with him to teach him something new. This could be something he never learned, like “drop it”, or something you’ve never tried, perhaps “go to the fridge and grab me some juice”.
Play a game or with challenging toys. Believe it or not, they do make interactive games for dogs – board games, peg games, etc. Or you could use one of those treat toys in which your dog has to get the treat out in some way. We have a toy for Lucas that is bottom heavy with a little hole in it. He has to push the toy over with his nose or paw to try and get the treats out of the hole and I’m telling you, it keeps him busy for at least 20 minutes and you can really tell that he’s thinking hard about how the thing works.
Run errands with your dog. Bring your dog with you down to the mailbox, or the corner store just to get him out of the house. You can take him in the car and bring him with you to the car wash or something that involves driving through and not getting out of the car for too long. Bringing your dog with you on these types of errands whether it be a walk or a joyride allows him to discover new places, smells, and people, which will be a new and exciting experience.
Give your dog a job to do. See “go to the fridge and grab me some juice”. Really though, get your dog involved in a sport or a class with a friend and let him explore a world where he has a job to do. Sure, you play fetch in the house all the time, but something like frisbee or Flyball can be a new and exciting game for your dog to learn. Go on a hike in a new place or to a lake for a swim.
Introduce your dog to new faces. Take your dog to the dog park or even to a people park that allows pooches so that they can see new people and make new friends. The stimulation of meeting new people engages all of his senses and is a really great chance for him to drain his energy in a constructive way: with new pals!
Rotate old toys and bring in new ones. Just like you can only play candy crush on your phone for so many days in a row, your pooch needs a new game too. Rotate his toys so that they aren’t all available to him at once. That way, he can pick and choose between a few toys for a week or two, then he gets a few new ones in the mix and the old ones rotated out. It will keep him on his toes and stimulated so that he won’t get bored of the same ol’, same ol’.
Any other tricks or ways to challenge your dog that you use? Let us know!