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5 Dog Brain Training Ideas To Help Keep Your Pet Sharp

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As your dog gets older, it’s natural for your pet to experience some cognitive decline. But, there is so much you can do to support your pet and his brain to help him age gracefully and stay sharp. In this post, we’re talking all about brain training and cognitive support for your dog to help your pet keep his wits about him well into his golden years.

1: Teach Your Old Dog New Tricks

The old idiom—that you can’t teach older dogs anything new—just is not true. Instead, it’s more important than ever to continue training your dog as he gets older in years. It helps your dog maintain healthy brain function, supports a sharp memory, and can even be beneficial for your pet’s mood balance as well. 


Continue teaching your dog new things and brushing up on his obedience skills throughout his entire life—not just during your dog’s more formative years. You can practice training in new environments, with different distractions, or with varied rewards to keep your dog on his toes and to help him maintain healthy brain function. 

 

2: Try Treat Games

There are a ton of games you can play with your dogs to help him keep his brain healthy and strong—plus, he’ll be thrilled to play if there are treats involved. Here are some ideas to try:


Play The ‘Treat Seek’ game: Set your pup up in the other room so he can’t see what you are up to! Go around the room hiding treats for your pet to find. After you have hidden a handful of traits, let your pet back into the room. Your dog has to sniff and search for the treats in order to enjoy them.


Try a treat toy: Pick up a treat-dispensing toy to keep your pet entertained and to keep his dog’s brain sharp. He has to problem solve and figure out exactly how the treats come out and what actions are necessary to 


Consider a Kong: Let your dog figure out how to get every last treat out of a Kong to help your pet maintain his brain health. Or, take Kong time a step further, by filling the toy with a blend of wet food or peanut butter and freezing it for a few hours. Your dog will be challenged and will have to figure out what to do in order to get. 

3: Pick Up Some Pet Puzzles

There are also many pet puzzles on the market designed specifically to challenge your dog and that are specifically made for brain training. Or, you can DIY your own pet puzzles. Try these with your pet:


DIY bottle puzzle: Drill holes into the sides of three bottles. Use a rod or dowel & thread through the holes so your bottles are hanging. Build some sort of base to hold the rod or dowl. Now, add treats to the bottles and let your pet puzzle and problem solve to figure out how to get them out! 


Puzzle plushies: Choose a stuffed toy for your pet that contains multiple pieces, hidden compartments or pockets to keep him on his toes. There are lots of them available to purchase that include things like a stump with lots of tiny squirrels inside or a stuffed brick of cheese with little mice peeking out. Your pup will be entertained for hours trying to figure out how to reach each little animal and puzzle his way through the complicated stuffed toy. 


Try something with buttons: Train your pet and challenge his brain at the same time! There are lots of puzzle toys out there that use buttons to reward your pet for learning where to step in order to get a treat. Choose one with interactive sounds or that lights up when your dog steps on a particular button instead. These toys do a great job of flexing your dog’s memory because they require that he keeps tabs on which buttons will open a door with a treat inside! 

4: Sniff Things Out!

Keep your dog’s sense of smell strong to help support cognitive function into your pet’s senior years. Playing sniff games, having your pet go on a scent scavenger hunt, or practicing real scent dog training are all ways you can help your pet stay sharp. Or, make up a sniffing game of your own! There are lots of DIY tutorials out there with instructions on how to make your own doggie digging mat—a toy designed to let your pet do some indoor digging and to help your pet sharpen his sense of smell.


Or, go outside and do some scent training with FIdo. The elements and distractions that come along with being outside will make your training session even more challenging for your dog—which is exactly what you wnat when you are trying to promote healthy cognitive function for your pup.

5: Add Omega Fatty Acids To Your Dog’s Diet

One of the best things you can do for your dog’s brain, diet-wise, is to add Omega-3 Fatty Acids to his diet. This might mean you feed him a salmon-basd food or other recipe that is formulated with healthy fats inside. Or, to make things even easier, pick up a supplement made with Fish Oil.


Look for one that is rich in natural Fish Oil and that contains the Omega Fatty Acid DHA. Sure, others like EPA and ALA are healthy and can benefit your pet, but DHA is particularly effective when it comes to cognitive support.


DHA is a long-chain polyunsaturated fat, which means that they support your dog in a number of ways. Not only are they beneficial for heart health, but they also promote healthy skin, a strong coat, and...they are beneficial for promoting a healthy attention span, memory, and overall brain function in your dog. They help your pet experience balanced moods and have even been shown to help if your pet is feeling depressed or occasionally anxious. 

PetHonesty Products To Support Your Dog’s Cognitive Function

Try PetHonesty Omega-3 Fish Oil or Salmon Oil with Hemp when you want to add some healthy fats a little brain-boost to your dog’s diet. Both are formulated with cognitive function in mind and are easy to add to your pet’s daily routine. Simply squirt some on top of his food and mix in. Or, bake with these Omega-rich supplements!  Add them to any healthy dog treat recipe to instantly add nutritional value to your pet’s favorite snack. 


Sources:

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/fun-cognitive-training-games-for-dogs/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201403/eight-habits-improve-cognitive-function

https://www.herbsmithinc.com/cognitive-health/

https://www.greatpetcare.com/training/brain-training-for-dogs/