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4 Ways to Engage Your Dog’s Mind with the Outside World

by Dennis ODonnell on April 29, 2020

It’s a big world out there, full of new sights to see, new smells to sniff, and new friends to meet. But for many dogs—and their busy owners—the daily routine can sometimes get in the way of all those exciting opportunities to explore.

Most dogs thrive with some level of predictability, whether it’s a feeding schedule or a set time for daily walks. But just like us, dogs need new stimuli and challenges to fully flourish mentally, emotionally and socially. With the help of the experts at, here are a few easy ways to ensure that your dog is fully engaged with the outside world every day.

  1. Mix up their normal routine

Keeping your dog engaged can be as easy as taking her on a car ride somewhere new. Running errands or visiting a friend’s house might seem dull, but these experiences can be full of fresh stimuli for your dog. Even changing up your normal walking route will give her a whole slew of sensory information to take in, which will engage your dog’s brain and keep her more mentally alert.

  1. Prioritize playtime

Dogs are social creatures, and some of the best stimuli can come from meeting and engaging with their fellow canines. We often think of play as primarily a means for exercise, but taking your pup to the dog park also serves a key social function, allowing them to interact with each other, build confidence, test boundaries and exert their energy in a safe, socially engaging environment.

  1. Switch out toys and try new games

If your dog has a whole basket of toys but only plays with a few favorites, consider starting a rotation. Bringing in a new toy or reintroducing an old favorite after a few weeks will provide a sense of novelty and variety. Puzzle toys are designed to teach your dog problem-solving skills, and there are tons of great options out there, including ones you can make yourself. Likewise, trying a new game or even coming up with a simple twist, like playing fetch with a stick instead of the usual ball, will keep your dog on his toes, literally and figuratively.

  1. Encourage their natural skill set

We all get enjoyment out of the things we excel at, and the same is true for dogs. If your pup has a natural propensity for running, swimming, or foraging, find ways for them to employ their skills through a trail run, a game of fetch in the lake or a treasure hunt in the backyard. Not only will you be fulfilling your dog’s natural instincts, but you’ll also be giving them a “job” to do, helping relieve restlessness and provide a sense of purpose at the same time.


About the author

Written by Meghan Ross, community member. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.


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