When we think of exercising our pets the first thing that comes to mind is probably walking the dog or playtime around the living room with the cat. Physical exercise is absolutely necessary for our pets but the issue is that we are only exhausting their bodies but doing nothing for their brains. Let’s talk about why its so important to exercise our pets’ brains and some of my favorite ways to do that.
I have a client with a young German Shepherd that goes on daily runs and the owners wonder why every day the pup just wants to go further and on longer walks and runs. Well, we are building up his strength so that he can go longer distances and times, but we are not tiring out his whole body and mind with just the physical exercise.
The first thing I asked this client was how they were feeding their dog. Of course, he looked at me confused and told me “out of a bowl”. He also let me know that his dog gobbled up his food in a matter of seconds once the bowl was put down.
My immediate recommendation was to add food puzzles and toys for the pup to enjoy his breakfast and dinner out of. I explained that the dog stays home all day while you are at work and school, working your brain, and he is most likely sleeping not doing much while you are away.
When we get home we have to engage with our pets because they have been waiting for us throughout the day, bored. By giving our pets food puzzles and using slow feeder type of bowls and toys we are providing mental stimulation as they figure out how to get the food out. By giving them opportunities to figure out how to work the puzzles we are able to exhaust their minds which will help to make them tired overall.
My client was willing to try adding some food toys and, guess what, the pup loved it and it helped to tire him out at the end of the day without having to add another mile to the walk every night.
There are many types of food puzzles that can be used for our pets. There are slow feeder bowls that slow down our pets who scarf their food a little bit, but I prefer more interactive toys such as Kong Wobblers, Petsafe Busy Buddy toys, Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball, Petsafe Egg-Cersizer, and the Catit Senses 2.0 Digger.
These are the types of toys that you can fill up with a pet’s food to give them at mealtime and let them go to work. Many times pets need a little help figuring them out at first so fill them up so it’s easier or put a tasty treat near the opening and inside so that they want to work a little harder to get to whats inside without getting frustrated from the beginning.
Pets will also start to master the different puzzles we give them, just like we do with crosswords and Sudoku, so I like to alternate the different toys so they are not doing the same thing every day and also find more difficult ones as they start to figure out the easy ones.
You can look in my shop for the toys that I’ve mentioned above, but I have found some great puzzles at Home Goods in their pet department too. There are also toys that you can make yourself at home if you are on a tight budget!
A workout for your pet’s brain is just as valuable as a workout for their heart and body! Contact me today for some recommendations of food puzzles and toys for your pet! visit my toys store HERE or choose from some below!