Brain games are not only for humans. Dogs and cats can also benefit from mental exercises and learning new tricks to help keep their mind sharp. Every time they learn something new, new neural pathways in the brain are crated, thus improving cognition and even repair damage.

The benefits of mind games don't just stop at brain development – they can also help with some common behavioral problems. The most common reasons for behavioral problems in pets are boredom, frustration, and stress. Dogs and cats are very smart creatures, and just like people they can get bored too.  Unlike humans, who have a lot of distractions like reading books or watching TV, when pets get bored, they don’t have a lot of options.

In most cases, boredom leads to destructive behavior in pets. Cats may end up scratching your furniture, some dogs may also resort to self-harming behaviors, such as pacing, whining or even chewing up their own bodies. Spending additional bonding time with your dog can help reduce separation anxiety, while regularly exercising his mind can help reduce destructive behavior due to restlessness.

So how do you keep your pet's brain active at every life stage? Try combining food and play for one of the most fun (and delicious) ways to encourage cognitive development and maintenance. Here are some ideas for brain games for your dogs and cats:

 

Interactive toys

Interactive puzzle toys are a great way to keep your pets engaged when you're home or away. Puzzle toys come in a variety of forms that help entice your pet’s hunting and tracking instincts.

 

These puzzle toys like those from Outward Hound Nina Ottosson come compartments that open and close, or objects that need to be removed before the treat is accessible and provide an exciting challenge in getting those treats out.

 

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toy

 

Obstacle courses

When it comes to creating an obstacle course for your cat, use the toys your cat usually likes to chase to lure them out. Have them jump on your chairs to chase the toy, throw it across the room or make them climb for it up a cat tree. Cat trees are an investment but, they create a space that allows them to observe their surroundings from a safe place.  

For dogs, you can do a makeshift obstacle course in your own living room. Add some boxes to create tunnels and platforms as obstacles. You can also move around furniture to make a familiar location feel new and exciting. Let your dog explore his obstacle environment on his own, or get entice them to go through the course by getting out their favorite treats.

 

Supervised outdoor time

Cats can enjoy the outdoors too. A comfortable cat leash gives your cat’s brain stimulating outdoor time but keeps him safe from outside dangers. The Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash from Petsafe can help you enrich your cat’s life with the sights, sounds, and smells of a safe outdoor experience. The bungee leash was specially designed to gently and securely control your cat. When your cat moves forward, the leash flexes with your cat’s movement and tightens across the harness shoulder straps. This removes pressure from the delicate throat area, preventing your cat from choking or escaping. It gives you gentle, comfortable control of your cat or kitten. Now you can share enjoyable walks, exercise, and playtime outside your home.

 

The great outdoors offers a lot of opportunities to help keep your dog mentally active. It would also be a good chance for you to get some exercise together with your dog. Fetch balls and frisbee toys allow your dog to get exercise by running after the object. A daily walk with your dog is a great way to excite his mind and body through new smells, sights and physical activity.

 

Keeping your pets active is a great way to spend quality time when you are home, and a great way to make them happy while you are gone. Making them physically active and mentally engaged can help minimize destructive behaviors when boredom hits. A healthier mind and body also lead to better health in the long-term, and fewer health problems as your pet ages. Simply put, a bored mind can lead to negative behaviors, and a busy brain makes a healthy and happy pet.