Not only have we incorporated food dispensing toys as a form of everyday mental stimulation, but we also engage Athena in many other activities that mentally exhaust her such as:
- Short at-home training sessions
- Walks around the neighborhood
- Car rides
- Trips to the pet store
- Obedience classes
- Scent games
One mentally stimulating scent game that Athena particularly enjoys is 'Find It' which we play indoors on rainy days, in the yard, and at the park. I begin by putting Athena in a down-stay and ask her to 'wait.' I then walk around the room (or outside) and hide pieces of kibble (and other delicious treats) in corners, under chairs, on top of short pieces of furniture, and in the grass. Athena is released from her down-stay with the 'find it' command and she is on her way sniffing to find each piece of kibble.
|'Finding' her kibble|
Because this scent game requires Athena to use so much nose power, she gets a very large mental workout. Even after she has found all of the hidden kibble, Athena will continue to sniff around the house or yard in search of any leftover food that she may have missed. This game keeps her occupied for quite a while. Our next step is to advance the 'Find It' game and incorporate some scent identification.
|Looking for leftover kibble|
We are obviously not the first to discover the many advantages of using scent games as a form of mental stimulation. Here are some of our favorite posts and videos that give examples of different types of scent work:
Find It! from Peace, Love, & Fostering
Sara Lee Find It from Animal Farm Foundation
Nose Work Games from Center for Shelter Dogs
Do you play any scent games with your dog or incorporate nose work into their daily routine? What other ways do you provide your dog with mental stimulation?