Our very own Tilly Saunders has been training dogs for over 4 years and is highly experienced in dog training and socialisation!

In the piece below, Tilly shares in her own words, the importance of providing mental enrichment for your dog …

Your dog’s nose is its most powerful sense. So it would seem pretty obvious that stimulating this sense will be beneficial?  

We, as dog owners, may not realise the importance of doing mental enrichment and scent work with their dog. Scent work encourages your dog to use its nose, to find something they really want, and it works their brain in the process – resulting in a tired dog! The reason we encourage scent work in this way, by using treats or a toy makes your dog use its nose to search for the item, much more intensely than it would opposed to just sniffing alone. The benefits of doing scent work and mental stimulation exercises with your dog are endless, from becoming more settled and content within the home, to being more mentally fulfilled and it can help with certain unwanted behaviours. 

Scent work is a really useful tool in various situations, there are also numerous types of scent work and mental stimulation games you can play with your dog on a daily basis to keep them occupied and their brain tired.  

Treats (the smellier the better) or your dog’s food allowance on grass, sprinkled around in any order so your dog has to run around sniffing the food out, which will in turn use their nose and tire their brain out. You can use their meal times to do this, which breaks their day up a little bit instead of them being always fed from the same thing which can make meal times boring for them.  All dogs are different and some dogs find “bowl best” for their food but you will soon work out whether this is right for your dog and they enjoy it!

Hide & Seek! Using a toy, or a high value treat like Tripe, chicken, beef etc. and hide the treat somewhere obvious to start with, that isn’t going to use their brain excessively to start with, what we don’t want to do is build frustration with our dog. What we aim to do is keep them interested and not to lose their attention on the game by making it too difficult to start, with the progression we do by increasing the difficulty slowly will keep their interest in the game.  Just go at your dog’s pace.

Kong’s. Using a Kong with a variety of different recipe’s and freeze them, chill them, or just give them as you’ve made them are great mental enrichment toys for your dog, and provide hours of fun and entertainment for your furry friend. 

Scent work and search games such as these are a very rewarding and exciting thing for a dog, it is a very stimulating activity that dogs love to engage in and it tires them out quickly. 20 minutes with any one of these games, or the various others that are out there can be the equivalent to a 1 hour walk. Mental enrichment is a great way to tire your dog out on those days where it isn’t possible; such as an extremely hot day where it isn’t advisable to walk them, but you have a dog that needs exercising! 

The best part about mental stimulation games that I love, is that it builds a mutual understanding of a relationship between dog and owner. It helps with bond building with you and your dog, as they love to interact with you even more in a positive way! 

If you need any more training tips, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Enterprise Trainer, Rachel.