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'Brain Exercises' for your Dog

Most dogs love to head out for a walk, check out the latest sniffs and stretch their legs. In many cases it is great to take our healthy dogs out as much as possible to provide environmental stimulation for them and keep them fit and healthy.

HOWEVER, this isn't always possible! There are many reasons that your long walks with your dog may no longer be the best option for your furry friend; Restricted exercise, complete cage rest, mobility issues for you or your dog, or at present the corona virus lockdown. I often work with dogs whom are on cage rest after an injury or surgery, or have restricted exercise due to a musculoskeletal condition such as arthritis or elbow/hip dysplasia. Whilst progressing through their treatment and rehabilitation plans, I have witnessed first hand the difficulty that many owners face in entertaining their dogs and keeping them stimulated during these times, often arriving to treat dogs who are 'bouncing off the walls'.

When physical exercise is no longer a possibility, it becomes even more important to keep our dog's minds active. There is a wide variety of doggy games/puzzles on the market, allowing us to challenge our dog's minds. Some of the ideas below can be purchased, however as shopping is also limited during these challenging times, I have listed a number of homemade options made from common household items. These games vary from very easy to advanced, so give them all a try and let me know how your dog gets on with them as well as any of your own ideas!

Please take care to ensure that everything you use to make the games are safe and won't harm your dog (Avoid any sharp edges, or anything your dog can swallow) Always ensure that you include any food given in your dog's daily ration, especially if they are prone to weight gain or currently undergoing a weight management programme. It is often a good idea to feed your dog's normal meals using some of these games, encouraging them to slow down, work for their food and stay fuller for longer! (Take a look at the doggy diets for arthritis blog for more information on this!)

1. Paper Cup Hide and Seek

2.Spin the Bottle

3. Lucky Dip

*I happened to have a lot of table tennis balls around for this one, but use whatever you have!

4. Snuffle Mat

5. Don't forget your Home Exercise Plan!

A great way to keep your dog working his/her body and mind during times of restricted exercise is to crack on with your prescribed exercises. This will help your dog to recover more quickly, build muscle correctly, as well as keeping them occupied and stimulated during times of restricted exercise. I must stress that please don't attempt any form of rehabilitative exercise without recommendation from your vet of veterinary physiotherapist. Each dog requires a full assessment prior to performing any exercises, this will ensure that the exercises are performed safely, correctly, and will cause no harm to your dog. If you are interested in getting some exercises to help your dog be the best he/she can be, please don't hesitate to contact me and I will be more than happy to carry out a full assessment and create a full treatment plan, which will include a home exercise programme.

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