Battersea’s guide to brain training for dogs holiday cottages


Battersea’s guide to brain training for dogs

Kate W 15 February 2024

Mental exercise is important for dogs of all ages, and just as important as physical exercise. Dogs do so much to improve our well-being, it's important to give back and keep our pets happy and healthy as well. Brain training provides your dog with a source of mental stimulation which is helpful in preventing them from becoming bored, frustrated or developing any unwanted habits as a way of finding an outlet for their energy.

Our friends over at Battersea have shared some useful brain training tips to help keep your dog mentally stimulated, which in turn, will keep them occupied and improve their confidence.

Read on for ideas of brain training for your dog or click the button to begin browsing our pet-friendly holiday cottages around the UK.

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Use food to engage your dog

Staff member at Battersea with a dog raising its paw for food

It’s no secret that dogs are motivated by food. A great way to engage your dog’s brain is by scattering a healthy portion of their favourite food across the floor and encouraging them to find it. We recommend doing this on a hard surface if indoors.

As your dog will rely on their scent to search for the food, they’ll grow in confidence when they find the scattered treats. You can be as creative as you want by placing food in different locations around your home. Just be sure to place them in safe areas where you don’t mind your dog rummaging about. Scatter and search games will allow your dog to engage their brain in a fun, interactive way that keeps them on their toes. If you love baking, check out this easy recipe for homemade treats by Battersea

Does sniffing mentally stimulate a dog?

Yes, sniffing provides lots of mental stimulation for your canine companion, so searching for treats will boost your dog's confidence, happiness and brain power. Let your dog sniff interesting smells on slow walks too - a calm walk with lots of sniffing provides more mental stimulation than a fast walk. 

Keep your dog occupied with activity toys and puzzle feeders

Staff member at Battersea, beautiful dog indoors on a dog bed and a dog puzzle

Alternatively, you could use activity toys and puzzle feeders which are great for encouraging your dog to physically move around and do some problem-solving - a wonderful brain training activity for dogs! Toys such as KONGs are perfect for this.

Start by stuffing the KONG toy with dry food that can easily fall out and be accessible for your dog. As your dog gets used to the toy, gradually make it more challenging for them to get the food out. You can do this by soaking some of the dry food beforehand or making sure it’s packed tightly in the KONG. You can also achieve this by using a sticky spread like peanut butter. Changing up the variety of food will help keep your dog interested in the toy. Just remember that the tighter you pack the food or treats, the more challenging it will be for your dog.

Like with KONGs, puzzle feeders are another way to engage your dog’s brain as they must figure out how to pick and pull out their food. These can be more challenging for your dog, so be sure to help and guide them if they appear to be struggling.

Are lick mats mentally stimulating? 

Lick mats are mentally stimulating and they are mainly used for calming dogs who are stressed. For dogs, licking secretes endorphins, the happiness hormone, helping to soothe an anxious or nervous dog who might have other more destructive habits like chewing or digging. 

Get creative with everyday items

A pup inside a box that he's chewed up

As a cost-effective alternative, you can introduce your dog to brain training activities by using everyday items around your home. This can be achieved by making a destruction box for your dog. 

For this, use a small cardboard box or shoebox and fill it with scrunched-up balls of newspaper, toilet roll and toys. Scatter and hide some of your dog’s favourite treats in and around the box and encourage them to use their scent to track them. You can even get creative by turning this into a fun game like a treasure hunt, creating a trail of treats that lead your dog towards the destruction box, where their favourite item of food can be found hidden inside. Be mindful about how challenging you make this as your dog may lose interest in the game if they find it too difficult.

Can too many toys overstimulate dogs?

It sounds counter-intuitive - but yes! A never-ending amount of toys can overstimulate or overwhelm your pup, which will result in a loss of enthusiasm and excitement at playtime. It's super important to have an assortment of good-quality, interactive dog toys that your canine friend loves to play with.

Supporting Battersea

At Canine Cottages, we’re incredibly proud of our partnership with Battersea. Built on shared values, this allows us to support Battersea and its incredible work.

We’re a proud supporter of The Battersea Way pet advice email newsletters – you can sign up here or donate to Battersea and help make a difference to the animals in their care.

Why not provide mental stimulation to your four-pawed pup with a wonderful holiday? Begin planning an unforgettable holiday with your four-pawed friend by browsing our collection of dog-friendly cottages. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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