Mental Stimulation, also known in the dog training world as environmental enrichment, plays a huge part in a dogs life. Dogs need things to do- not only does it break up the mundane parts of the day, but it can help prevent some problem behaviors from starting (think: destructive chewing, excessive barking etc).
Here's some easy things you can give your dog to do when you aren't home:
Master the art of the stuffed kong!
Have you ever seen those funny looking red rubber things in pet stores with a hole in the bottom? Those are kongs, and they are absolutely awesome. You can put all kinds of food or treats in there to make your dog work for it, and to keep them busy. Freeze them after you stuff them and they'll last even longer! Visit https://www.kongcompany.com/recipes/ for cool ideas.
Easter egg hunt
Have leftover Easter eggs from Easter? Make sure to use the eggs with the small holes in the bottom (so your dog can smell them). Put a couple of treats in the eggs and close them. To start off with, hide them in an easy spot where your dog will find them, and then gradually increase the difficulty of the hiding spot (so your dog learns how to use their nose to find the eggs). Make sure to supervise your dog in the beginning to make sure they don't eat the plastic egg- you also may have to "show them" how to break the egg open. Be creative with the eggs and have fun!
Get a kiddie pool (stores have them for cheap now in the summer) and buy sand from Home Depot or lowes to fill it up. Bury bones and toys in the sand and watch as your dog has a blast digging them up to find them! Tip:
Digging is a natural behavior for dogs (although we may find it annoying). Giving your dog their own spot to dig in may help cut down on unwanted digging.
This ones a great one for the summer. Pour water in an old Rubbermaid container that you don't care about. Add in some chicken broth (or some treats, or even a bone) and then freeze the container. After it's fully frozen, let your dog go to town on it! This would probably be best to use outside to avoid the mess!
Look into electronic training toys
I don't promote one over another, but there's some very cool electronic training toys that can teach your dog using Positive Reinforcement Training. Some of them are the Manners Minder, The auto trainer and
the Treat and train. Here's a link to them on amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s?k=manners+minder. Whichever one you're looking into, I can assure you your dog will love it!
What do you do to relieve your dogs boredom? Comment below!
Stay tuned for more enrichment ideas, soon!