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BABEL 6110How Do I Keep My Dog Mentally Stimulated?

This is an question that anyone who has several young or high energy dogs may be asking themselves. We sure have ask that question often with all these different Bostons Terriers and their different ages and medical needs. Even our adult Bostons require some excitement in their lives.

One of the challenges of having Boston Terriers or any dog and not being at home all the time is ensuring that they stay balanced. Most of the people we have talked to, indicate their belief that not only is is important to keep our dogs physically active but also mentally stimulated. And We wholly agree.

 We know that if we are willing to spend money there are many new toys out there to encourage a dog to use his brain. But I like to find and use items and methods that do not have a price tag attached. If you spend a lot of money on a new toy and it is not used or is destroyed then your are back to square one looking for something new. However if there is little or no cost then you are way a head of the game, especially if you are a many dog household or foster family.

 That is not to mean that, we do not on occasion try out new toys and games from our local pet stores.IMG 5515 Some of the new dog toys are ignored by some and others just are plain tail-wagging happy to take up the challenge.  Other dogs just seem baffled by the whole experience.

In the process of learning what interests a particular dog we have found that the challenge of finding something for the each of the dogs is a mentally stimulating exercise for humans also.

 With shorter daylight hours, winter on its way, long commuting or work hours, having a stimulating toy reserve specifically for when you are not home or your Boston is unable to get outside playtime will help so much in .

 We have a bit if a problem and we are sure you also have come across this when you have multiply dogs sharing the same toys. What is perfect for a small mouthed dog might be swallowed or chewed to bits by a larger dog. So we are looking for suggestions from our readers on what you do to solve this issue.


 In our standard "tool box"


 We have learned to incorporate exercise with another activity such as playing, “Find the ball,” or doing some agility exercises this might mean for larger dogs (which we normally do not have ) jumping over a bench or log placed in a play area.  With smaller dogs like our Bostons walking across the log or bench while trying to obtain a treat (or better yet their favorite toy ) from your hand. 

Obedience training: This requires your dog to use his brain and think.  Knowing that he will be praisedboston-terrier-smile-e1356583701158 for making the right decision and corrected for making the wrong decision (and allowed the opportunity to make the right decision again) instills a sense of responsibility in your dog and demands that he use his noggin.

Dogs like to work:  Teach your dog to bring in the newspaper, carry mail back from the mailbox or to walk out with you when you take the trash out. One idea was to have a special bag that a dog could carry out to the trash can when you take the trash out.

Dog Comes Along:  Take your dog with you when you go places.  Need to return movies?  Take the dog along if the weather permits you to safely leave him in the car for 5 minutes.  Return your moves, then get the dog out for 5 minutes and walk him around the parking lot.  Every outing you can allow your dog to enjoy is mental stimulation, even if it's just for 5 minutes!  Need to go to the ATM at night?  Take the dog along and have him do a sit-stay in the room while you get your money.  Checking your mail?  Take the dog along, and do some trick practice outside the post office.  Need to fill up your auto and get a automatic car wash?  You can add immense amounts of mental stimulation just by allowing the dog to accompany you wherever you go.  Even if you don't take him out of the car, the trip itself is fun and exciting. Simply starting to include the dog in your life on an everyday basis outside of the home environment, folks, will make a HUGE difference. 

Treasure Hunt: This is one of my favorite outside games for me and the dogs. We usually do this outside but a super game inside also when the weather is just too bad for the Bostons. All dogs can track using their most powerful sense, their nose. Make a game out of hiding their food or play hide-and-seek with treats. You can build obstacle courses for your dog out of boxes, sturdy containers, and portable stairs. Rub the scent in scent in various spaces, hiding the meal or the high-prized treat in the toughest place to find. It encourages the dog to problem solve and as a result, builds confidence too. Think of this as a sort of Easter egg hunt for the dog. If you have children this is especially fun for them to "help hide things" also.



Inside when picking up clothes and taking to the wash area we taught our dogs to carry socks, small towels, and the like they are so dedicated to doing this that many times they have blocked our way because we where "doing their job". When we handed over the offending item they pranced proudly to their target area waiting for a reward, much relieved that they were able to help.

dogringbelltogooutWe have used bells hanging on doors to teach them how to communicate to us they need to go out. Once one of the dogs have learned many of the others either run to the door to go out also or  learn to use the bells to alert us of their needs.  Some of our Bostons like the "game" so much they enjoy the false alarms their use of the bells create.

Our foster Bostons learn by watching the others.  The small rituals done at the same time of day, every day.  For example; feeding time, grooming, walks, “treat” time, car trips around town, etc quickly become part of their learning, not only how to fit in their place in the pack, but the predictable rhythms are calming in many ways, exciting in others, because they know what is coming. 


Hide and Seek:  Our favorite inside/outside game is hide-and-seek,  First you teach a puppy or dog to "stay" command, this becomes a really fun exercise. It’s also a way to teach “come” with the word “come” or whatever sound you choose, a whistle for example. It works like this: you say “stay” and then go hide in another room or behind a tree or wherever. Keep the proximity close at first and then gradually increase the distance. When you are in your hiding place, make the come sound or say the word. Then patiently wait for the dog to find you. Don’t say his name or the command again. Give their mind a chance to work it out. When he finds you, reward him with a treat. It’s that simple. They’ll get better and better at it and once they do, you can move to larger areas like a park.

Find It? Looking for a game to play at night when the lights are out? Make sure the targeted room is clean of treats and food.  Then hide food all around it. Then simply turn off the lights and let your dog sniff out the food!I know it's not a tough one, but not only does it keep them occupied for a bit it helps train their sense of smellBones You can get bones from pets at home fairly cheap, they usually come roasted and so are generally a 'natural' treat.

Those are some of our favorite ways to keep our Bostons mentally stimulated. Do you have some more Ideas to suggest?