How to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog? 9 Best Mental Exercises

Last Updated on June, 2023

Have you noticed your dog’s behavior patterns? Have you noticed your dog’s development of bad behavior over time? Many dogs gradually develop bad habits that do not happen all at once. 

The widespread reason for this is boredom or lack of attention. I have seen plenty of puppies trying to chew off shoes or couches when they lack attention. My very own dog once chewed off an entire mattress while I was binge-watching a tv series. 

You are on the right page if your dog has this kind of behavior. I will cover a lifelong lesson that will come in handy for you. The article is about all possible causes and easy solutions to combat your dog’s stubbornness. 

We live in a 9-5 work-life world with bits and pieces of weekends, in which we might have to run our chores half the time. This way, your dog will not get any attention or love. This is what we will focus on in this article! 

What is Mental Stimulation? Why is it Important? 

A human holding a dog's hand

Ever heard about “giving your brain a good workout?”

Imagine yourself locked inside a tall tomb, waiting for the love of your life to come and save you. Naturally, you will be super bored, and the chances of you being depressed or mentally affected are very high. 

In the same manner, dogs require mental stimulation. Mental stimulation keeps your dog healthy and, most importantly, happy. When you do not exercise your brain, you might fall into deep trouble, including being physically unfit. 

Exposing your dog to a changing environment and stimulating different receptors in your body helps keep your puppy healthy. 

Did you know lack of mental stimulation leads to mental conditions that can develop into life-threatening medical conditions? Not only that, all your dog’s undesirable actions can be dealt with if there is proper and sufficient mental stimulation. 

Know Everything About Your Dog’s Mental Stimulations!

mental stimulation for dogs

Several receptors in a dog’s body are directly linked to mental stimulations. Therefore, knowing these and engaging your dog with activities affecting the receptors are advisable. 

It is essential to understand that, as a dog parent, you must never perform any activity without fully being aware of the actual facts. For example, there is a big difference between performing tricks just for kicks and when performing with full knowledge. 

Let us explore more about the dog’s anatomy and do it right! 

Olfactory Stimulation

Olfactory stimulation deals with identifying fragrances. This system is directly linked to your brain. 

Even with dogs, olfactory stimulation is connected to mental stimulation. In addition, various studies prove that smells can affect your dog’s behavior patterns. For example, the smell of Lavender flowers, Chamomile, and Rosemary helps calm dogs and is mostly used in dog shelter homes. 

Human Social Stimulation 

Human Social Stimulation with dogs

Human Social Stimulation is the relationship your dog has with humans. It is considered that the relationship between humans and dogs is equal to what is called a parent-child relationship. 

Dogs look out for humans for many things like companionship, protection, discipline, and learning. In addition, adequate human social stimulation eliminates mental conditions such as excessive barking, which is directly linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder. (1)

Auditory Stimulation

Do you know that dogs love listening to music? Have you noticed it yet? If not, try it at home. But you must make sure you play calm music stimulating its brain cells. It sends a message to their brain to become calm and enjoy the music. 

Most prominently, dogs are known to enjoy harp music. However, in general, dogs do enjoy music despite the instrument. Music is also an excellent medication for heart rates and respiratory rates. (2)

Visual Stimulation

Mostly, if you think about your dog’s day, it is more time inside the house and less time outside. Suppose you have your dog outside, in the garden, job well done. But even so, your dog might get fed up with seeing the same things every day. 

Most dogs are attracted to images or visuals interspecific. Visual stimulation limits a dog’s vocalization and movement comparatively with less visual stimulation.

9 Easy Peasy Methods to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog! 

Even Though it sounds easy, engaging your dog in mentally stimulating activities could be challenging if your puppy is a tad naughty. However, the below nine methods are life savers as they can be easily done with your dog. 

1. Do Not Stick to One Route When Walking Your Dog

Walking on the same route sometimes gets boring, even for us humans. So make sure that you take your dog on different other paths. It could be challenging paths or flower parks; it does not matter. Dogs enjoy whichever.

The most important thing is to not stick to one route every day. Different odors of various environments and different visuals mentally stimulate your dog very well. 

2. Make Your Dog Walk For Treats

Constructing barriers or hiding your dog’s favorite treat in different places helps mental stimulation. It is more interactive than simply giving the treat to your dog.

It would be best if you always told it that a treat is something special rather than simply giving it right to its mouth. So it is better to start with small games like holding the treat in one hand and asking it to choose in which hand it is in. 

3. Provide Interactive Toys During Play Time 

A dog biting a toy from a toy truck

Playing with a ball at all times may not be the best for your pup. Dogs love to experiment and try out new things. Interactive and new toys that arouse their curiosity are ideal for dogs. 

This trick is handy for breeds that tend to have minimal attention spans. Dogs with little attention spans get fed up with things easily, even with toys. Rotating old toys with new ones is the best way to keep them occupied. 

4. Food Enrichment Toys 

Dogs just luurrrveee.. food, giving them food enrichment toys is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to deal with mental stimulations. For example, Rawhide Chews or Kong toys stuffed with favorite treats, are two of the most popular types. 

Having chew toys makes them less bored. It keeps them engaged in some form of activity leading to mental stimulation. This way, your dog’s inactivity can be reduced up to 30%. Isn’t that a big deal?

Here we have reviewed the best mental stimulation toys for dogs.

5. Games For Dogs

Being a dog parent is just not about feeding and raising them. It is essential to keep them happy. Playing various games with your dog helps them mentally and physically.

You can play games with your pup like tug of war, hide and seek, and fetch games. Dogs do not care whether they win or lose, but this is mainly to socialize. Human social stimulation is an essential factor, remember?

6. Playdates With Other Dogs

dogs playing

One thing we should never forget is that dogs are descendants of wolves. Wolves are pack animals. Meaning dogs do enjoy quality time with their friends. However, dogs go through a traumatized childhood because they get separated from their litter quite early. As a result, they become more vocalized. 

To reduce this undesirable behavior, you can simply introduce it to more friends and make it feel that he is not alone. Playing with a bunch of other dogs’ friends can rebuild social skills. This also improves your dog’s competitiveness, learning skills, adaptability, and, most importantly, cooperation. 

7. Try Simple Obedience Training 

Simple obedience training is crucial. You can start from small days or even middle age. But sooner, the better. Learning new things keeps their brain on fire. Brain on fire equals good mental stimulation. 

Obedience training can be highly beneficial to you as well. You can start by giving simple instructions such as sit, stand, roll over, out, and jump. A few minutes of training daily or every other day is recommended to get the best results. Learning new skills even develops their problem-solving abilities and many other skills. 

8. Exercise 

I do not have to explain to you the benefits of exercising. Even for humans, the benefits of engaging in some workout daily are so much. Similarly, even with dogs, a bit of cardio like playing fetch with a ball would do the magic. 

Exercising helps mainly in the cardiovascular department, joints and respiratory systems. Dogs do have a lot of energy; this can be used as a wise method to release their daily dose of energy. 

9. Take Your Dog To The Park 

A Girl a Boy Taking a Dog To The Park

Don’t we all like a peaceful walk in the park? Or a Sunday beach stroll? This improves their visual stimulation and social stimulation. To add to this, even hiking or camping can be used as one of the most successful ways of stimulating your dog’s mind. 

Going outdoors has its risks, which is why you must take your pet to a less chaotic and peaceful place. However, taking them on a walk to the park and letting them chase birds are known to be happy things in the dog world. 

Here is a list of fun outdoor games for dogs.

Get to Know About “Brain Training For Dogs” 

Brain Training for Dogs Program

I understand that sometimes it could be a little overwhelming with work and other commitments to spend so much time with your pup. However, it is vital that you somehow make time for your dog. Do not forget that you may have many people in life, but your dog has you, just you! 

Here’s what will save you time. I will tell you about “Brain Training For Dogs“, which is an excellent source for you to try. Trying this will make life easier. This is a great tool that helps train your dog’s brain. 

The product is specifically designed for dog mental stimulation which makes your task a little less hard. This online course covers pretty much all the troubles such as aggressive behavior, potty training, digging, jumping, whining, impulsive control are some of it. 

The tools that are included in this product can be effectively used to brain train your puppy. It even covers fundamental commands. So try it out, and do yourself and your pooch a favor! 

What Are the Benefits of Mentally Stimulating Your Dog? 

The benefits of mentally stimulating your dog are endless. You might realize it better after you start training. It will be visible in a week or two, maximum. 

Mental stimulation will most importantly make your dog healthy and happy. Mental stimulation can also reduce aggression in dogs and build confidence. You must also not forget that mental stimuli create a solid and happy bond between you and your dog. 

If your dog sleeps excessively, barks way too much, or is always restless and destructive, it is highly recommended to try mental stimulation. These undesirable behaviors will be gone in a matter of months if you train them effectively. 

After performing brain training activities, you will notice positive changes in your dog, such as being more attentive, alert, physically active and emitting a positive aura simply because he has never been this happier before! 



Mental stimulation plays a vital role in making your dog happy. Not only that, it makes your life easy too. I have covered so many benefits of carrying out mental stimulation activities. It might be overwhelming at once to start. However, it will be a piece of cake once you start training. 

This is mainly because your dog will get used to a specific training routine, and he will most likely look forward to the training session. Finding and gathering information, tools and correct sources takes time and energy. 

I hope I have covered pretty much everything you need to know but reading more on how the dog’s anatomy works and looking through more case studies will make you much more knowledgeable in this area. 

We must not forget that we are dealing with a living thing. And never forget that your dog trusts you always, so make sure you do not break its trust. 




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Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

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