Are there times when your Aussie seems like a ball of energy even after you have played fetch for hours? You might not know what to do during these times. In such cases, mental stimulation is important. Mentally stimulating activities can satisfy your Aussie and tone down its hyperactivity.
Physical exercise makes up only half of what’s necessary for dogs, and the other half is mental exercise! You have to maintain a balance between mental and physical activity.
Mentally stimulated dogs make for the happiest dogs!
To understand the importance of mental stimulation and ways to activate your doggo’s brain, read along and find answers to your questions!
What Is Mental Stimulation And Why Does Your Aussie Need It?
Your dogs are intelligent creatures that need brain activity for overall development. Lack of exercise can cause them to channel it in destructive ways – like chewing your favorite shoes.
As you might know, Australian Shepherds always want something to do, and not just physically.
Australian Shepherds have problem-solving abilities that aren’t only temperament traits but also a form of motivation. Your Aussie loves a challenge, solving problems, and figuring things out on his own. When put through such activities, they tend to feel accomplished and proud!
What Makes An Australian Shepherd Hyperactive?
Many dog owners feel that if they make their Aussies do enough physical activity, they’re good; since they are endearingly also referred to as ‘work dogs’. But little did we know, lack of mental stimulation can also cause problems even if your dog is physically fit.
You might find that if your dog doesn’t get enough mental stimulation, they become restless.
You want a dog who can strip creative patterns in your wallpaper every day with excitement and great stamina. And it will only be able to do this because of its amazing physical condition and eager attitude towards problem-solving.
You might already know that Aussies are an active breed housing high levels of energy. However, another accurate fact about them is that bored Aussies can also seem like active dogs with high levels of energy.
Your Aussie might get mental stimulation quite easily and satisfactorily if you take it on walks, free runs, or retrieval games.
Australian Shepherds Are Intelligent
One of the main reasons Australian Shepherds need mental stimulation is how smart they are. Australian Shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs. They rank 42nd on the list of the smartest dog breeds for working intelligence and obedience.
They’re put into the category of dog breeds with an “above average” intelligence. However, they excel in everything they do because of their high and instinctive IQ in herding. Additionally, they are incredible learners, and you can teach them anything.
Therefore, their beautiful, brilliant, and active minds need to channel their energy towards something. If they don’t, they become bored stiff, and out of control. Although Aussies aren’t typically aggressive creatures, they can get aggressive when they’re bored.
This will cause your munchkin to transform into an animal that destroys and barks. It might trash your backyard and house, chew on walls and furniture, and shred everything in sight. You don’t want to come to a house in ruins after a long day of work!
Effects Of The Lack Of Mental Stimulation In Aussies
Unlike most dogs who look at a fence like an obstacle, Australian Shepherds see fences like a challenge. Their brilliant mind automatically devices strategies to jump over the challenge.
When dogs notice a big branch in their backyard, they look at it as an object to chew and play with. However, Australian Shepherds look at the same branch as an opportunity to strategically take ownership of it.
They look at it as something they can carefully take through the doggy door into the house. Additionally, they also prance around the house, holding it high as if it were their trophy!
When most dogs are hungry or have cravings, the first thing they do is sit by their bowl or stare you in the face with puppy-dog-eyes. However, Australian Shepherds open cupboards, enter the pantry, and reach for the countertops. Sometimes, they even go on a scavenger hunt for food!
Now, you know how proactive these dogs are. You must stimulate their brilliant brains for a healthier lifestyle.
How Do You Mentally Stimulate An Australian Shepherd?
There are many ways to stimulate your Australian Shepherd mentally to avoid bad behavior. Here are some you can follow:
Buy Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys will be ideal for your extremely smart Aussie to test its problem-solving abilities and challenge minds. Because of the Australian Shepherd’s intelligence, ensure that you get challenging puzzle toys.
These toys must be a bit more challenging than the average ones since they will solve them in no time. Additionally, you can use Kongs for your dog to challenge its mind and puzzle-solving abilities.
Numerous companies offer various dog puzzle games and toys to keep your Aussie stimulated and busy. These companies include Company of Animals, Per safe Premier, Zanies, Star Mark, Ethical Pet, and Kyjen Dog Games.
One example of a puzzle dog toy would be taking multiple tubes leftover from paper towels or toilet paper. If you can’t find many, cut one into two pieces. Put these pieces of tubes together in a shoebox or any other box you can find. Now, take dog food and place it in those holes.
Your Australian Shepherd has to find the food and then find a way to get to it. As soon as it notices the puzzle, it will pick up the tube and feed on the treat. This is a great way to keep its nose and brain busy while slowing down its eating as well.
Nose And Scenting Games
One of the best ways to stimulate and challenge your munchkin’s mind is to stimulate its nose. You can play nose and scenting games with your dog.
Sniffing will make your Australian Shepherd extremely happy. Dog owners typically tend to ignore this characteristic because they don’t process the importance.
Nose work games will help your adorable doggo boost its confidence, use its instincts, and keep its brain busy. These types of games will tire out your doggo while preventing any destructive or unwanted behavior.
How To Start With Nose Or Scent Work Games?
Firstly, you need to ensure that your Australian Shepherd follows some generic commands. It must know to follow “Sit” and “Stay” commands. Reliable recalls also play an important role.
Additionally, you require your doggo to follow another command, “find it.” It’s not an issue if your dog is already trained with this command. However, if it isn’t, you should teach it beforehand and then start the game.
Grab a treat, flaunt it in front of your doggo and hide it anywhere in the room. Hide it while your Australian shepherd dog watches. Command your furry friend to “find it.” After a few tries, the clever breed will automatically decipher what you want it to do when using “find it”.
When it learns the importance, you can hide the treats anywhere in the house without letting it watch.
Another Nose Work Mental Stimulating Game
In this game, you place a treat in your right hand and show it to your Australian Shepherd before placing your hands behind your back. Then, you ask it where the treat is. If it points towards the right, praise it generously. However, if your doggo isn’t able to guess, don’t reward it.
Frozen Surprise Water Bowl
First, take a large bowl used for mixing and pour beef broth or chicken. Then, put a non-dissolvable treat like nylabone into the mixing bowl before placing the mixture in the freezer.
As soon as it gets frozen, please remove it from the freezer. Place the bowl in an upside-down position in your sink before running some warm water over it for some seconds.
Now, take the mixing bowl to your backyard, place it upside-down on the ground, and tap on the vessel lightly.
Your delicious frozen treat will drop to the ground. Now, everything depends on where you reside and the time of the year. This will determine how long your Australian Shepherd takes to finish the broth before getting to its main treat.
It’s very important to socialize your Australian Shepherd. Ensure that you socialize your dog as much as possible to avoid aggressive behaviors like scratching, biting, and barking excessively.
If you’re aware of someone who owns well-behaved and social dogs, it’s best if you arrange a playdate. Even a play date ranging from a half-hour to one hour will provide your Australian Shepherd with something exciting and new.
This will not only provide your adorable doggo with mental stimulation but also allow it to make friends. Additionally, it improves your munchkin’s sharing and socializing skills while getting active exercise. Dog play dates are never boring; they always jump and run around!
Take your Australian Shepherd to visit other dogs and take them on car rides together. Or, you can also invite another dog with its owner to your house for fun. However, ensure that you’re always alert and supervising the cute creatures.
Hide And Seek
It’s similar to the nose stimulating game mentioned above. However, in this case, you can hide not only a treat but also a toy or yourself anywhere in your house!
First, you should start by showing your munchkin the object you want to hide. Then, let your doggo watch you hide it somewhere.
As soon as it learns that “find it” is the command for when it has to start looking for the object, it will enjoy the activity. After the adorable pup gets used to it, move the game to the next level and don’t allow it to see where and what you hide.
Now, if you want to play by hiding yourself, command your Australian Shepherd to “sit” and “stay” in one room. Leave the room, and whichever you choose, and hide in a good hiding spot.
Shout for its name when you’re secure. To make the game more exciting, place a treat in your hand! When it finds you, you can reward it generously!
Easy walks might prove to be boring for many breeds, especially for clever and highly energetic canines like Aussies. For dogs, going for a walk means they get freedom. Canines want to explore the world, sniff everything in their way. If you don’t let your dog do that, it will get seriously frustrated.
Dog-owners tend to drag their dogs everywhere, not allowing them to pause and sniff. It would be best if you let your doggo sniff everything it wants to and explore the outdoors with its nose. This will stimulate your munchkin’s brain and leave it tired and content.
Let your doggo have a Sniffari instead of a drag disguised as a walk! You should, of course, keep it on a leash. However, you should take control of the leash only to prevent trouble.
Apart from that circumstance, allow your dog to lead and follow its nose wherever it wants to.
When your Aussie uses its nose, its brain processes so much activity that it burns all the excess energy it might have.
How Often Should Australian Shepherd Mental Stimulation Be Done?
Aussies need mental stimulation as much as they need physical exercise. Therefore, you need to let your doggo have at least 20-30 minutes of stimulation every day.
Apart from the tactics mentioned above, you can also buy a snuffle mat.
A snuffle mat will keep your Aussie breed occupied while using its senses. This mat slows down your doggo’s eating, letting it realize on its own that it’s full and still overeating.
Have you noticed that sometimes dogs clench their jaw? That’s because they hold stress in their jaws.
You can also get some strong, good-quality chew toys to occupy them. Chewing allows their brain to release endorphins, relaxing them thoroughly.
Now that you know the importance of mental stimulation, get as active as your energetic doggo! Go and get your dog some mental exercise!