All Daycare + Boarding Visits Include a FREE Farm Run

5000+ nights ($250,000) donated to help NZ rescue dogs

6 Ways to Keep Your Dog Mentally Stimulated

When it comes to caring for your doggo, the first thing we tend to think about is their physical needs. But along with exercise and nutritious food, dogs also require mental stimulation. Using play and interaction, mental stimulation develops your dog’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It also boosts their confidence and enables you to build a stronger bond with them.

From playing games at home to attending a doggy daycare, there are lots of things you can do to improve your dog’s wellbeing. If you’re new to this concept, we’re here to help. The team at K9 Heaven has rounded up some of the best and most exciting ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated. We’ll also show you what boredom looks like and how to combat it for a healthier, happier pup.


Hide And Seek

You’ll probably remember this game from childhood but did you know that it also works with dogs? Engage your dog’s critical thinking and sense of smell by hiding treats around the house and prompting your pup to find them. You could also hide yourself and call on your pup to find you. Not only does this offer tons of benefits for your dog, but it’s also pretty fun for you too.

Take a Scent Walk

Take a Scent Walk

Jazz up your daily walk by turning it into a sensory exercise. When we’re walking our dog, we often have places to get to or other things we need to do. If you can, try to carve out some time to allow your dog to slow down and explore. As you probably know, dogs love to sniff. Instead of pulling them back, let them sniff it all out. The act of sniffing releases dopamine and reduces stress.

Puzzle play

Puzzle play

Just like humans, puzzles are great for mental stimulation. To get started, choose some interactive toys that challenge your dog to access hidden treats. There are plenty of options on the market with varying degrees of complexity. If your dog hasn’t played with puzzles before, start with an easy level. You can then increase the difficulty as their problem-solving skills improve. Dog puzzles are a great way to keep your dog occupied while you’re busy.

Try Frozen Treats

Try Frozen Treats

You heard us right! Dogs love frozen treats. From pupsicles to frozen vegetables, these yummy treats are a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Your pup will need to work hard to lick the ice and reach their treat. This rewarding and stimulating exercise is fairly easy to prepare. Just take a look at some recipes to get started.

Join a doggy daycare

Doggy daycare is a fantastic way to keep your pal mentally stimulated (we wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true). Your doggo will have plenty of time to play and make furry friends. At K9 Heaven, we value the importance of play. From long runs across our farm to daily enrichment activities, we know exactly how to keep your dog stimulated. We also have plenty of quiet spaces where they relax and unwind before doing it all over again.

Toy rotation

Toy rotation

If you’re looking for a quick and simple way to boost mental stimulation, toy rotation is a great idea. Just like children, dogs often get bored with their toys. Instead of putting them all out at once, give your dog a few and swap them out every few weeks. This will keep things fresh and exciting for your doggo and help prevent boredom.

What is mental stimulation for dogs?

Mental stimulation encompasses activities and exercises designed to engage your dog, challenge their intellect, and provide opportunities for exploration. Through interactive games and activities, mental stimulation encourages dogs to use their senses, think critically, and discover their surroundings. It promotes their overall wellbeing and improves behaviour.

Why is it important to keep your dog mentally stimulated?

With tons of health benefits, mental stimulation is just as important for your dog as physical exercise. It also reduces destructive behaviour like barking, digging, and chewing up the furniture.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved mental health
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Better confidence
  • A reduction in hyperactivity
  • Improved brain development in puppies

How do I know if my dog is bored?

By identifying the signs of boredom in your dog, you’ll know when they require mental stimulation. Common signs of boredom include tail-chasing, excessive barking, pacing, and digging. If you notice any of these signs, start by trying some of the activities listed above.

Next steps

From frozen treats to playing hide and seek, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your dog mentally stimulated. If you find that your dog is suffering from boredom and you don’t have much time for long walks and activities, doggy daycare is a great way to ensure that your dog stays happy. With 10 acres of fields, forests and ponds, your dog will have plenty of space to explore and will be taken care of by our team of dog-loving experts

Get in touch for more information.