Living with a dog can be similar to having a roommate, except you’re actually the parent and fully in charge of their physical and mental health. Real talk: after a long day at work, this can be way harder than it sounds and those apartment pups need more than a daily game of fetch to tire them out.
Fun fact – Dogs actually get more out of physical activity when their brains are exercised as well. You heard it here first, folks!
Mental stimulation prevents boredom, increases happiness, and lessens stress and aggression. A dog who is not receiving adequate mental stimulation may resort to entertaining themselves, which comes off as excessive barking or destructive behavior. Definitely not ideal when it comes to that next door neighbor or pet deposit.
Here are a few easy ways to combat those behaviors and keep your dog mentally stimulated while you’re gone:
1. Slow Feeders, puzzles, and scent games
When feeding your pup, rather than simply placing their bowl down, consider purchasing a food dispensing toy or slow feeder. Your dog will have to “forage” for his or her food, plus these can also improve the digestion process for those pups who eat particularly quickly. While these designs are simple, they provide enough of an obstacle for dogs to feel rewarded.
You can also try treat dispensing puzzles, which come in various sizes and can be adjusted to change the difficulty level for your dog. Talk about mental stimulation with a reward! Puzzles are not a replacement for one-on-one time with your dog but work well to keep him or her distracted from trying to dig a hole in your couch cushion while you are away.
Another simple way to entertain your dog is by hiding their favorite treats in various areas of your apartment. Your pup may struggle with this initially, so use “smelly” treats in the beginning and hide them where your dog can easily find them. Once your pup is a treat-finding pro, you can begin to hide them in more difficult areas and encourage them to use their sense of smell more than relying on their eyesight.
Dog TV claims to “Reduce stress and anxiety; Enrich their well-being and quality of life; [and provides] Sights and sounds your dog will love.” It offers a television experience for dogs who struggle with separation anxiety, and uses scientifically developed sights and sounds made specifically to comfort your dog and stimulate happiness. Dog TV offers three content categories–relaxation, stimulation, and exposure–each aimed to target the unique needs of your dog.
3. Take a Stroll
The next time you take your dog out, give your pup time to “smell the roses.” Rather than briskly walking around the complex, allow your dog to put his or her senses to work. Another fun fact: dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors compared to the 6 million that humans possess. *looks up “olfactory receptors”*
Dogs are known to lessen stress and anxiety in humans, and promote physical activity, so it’s only fair to return the favor by keeping your apartment pup mentally stimulated! If you’re looking for even more inspiration for your furry friend, visit BYOD’s blog!
Guest blog by BYOD. BYOD serves as Houston’s leading dog-friendly resource. Whether it’s through their editorial features or dog-friendly maps, the BYOD pack is committed to building an online and offline community where dog-lovers can learn, share, and experience tail-wagging adventures. Sniff them out on Instagram and Facebook.