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Mentally Stimulate Your Dog or Puppy with Training

Updated on May 25, 2014

A dog or puppy needs to be mentally and physically stimulated in order for a content living experience with your pet. In this article you will find a few tips to help you succeed in mentally stimulating your dog or puppy. Stimulating your dog with training or special dog toys is a great way to mentally wear them out. Physically stimulating your dog is as simple as providing enough exercise by taking him or her on walks or running/playing in the back yard.

Training any animal can be tricky, but sticking to it and seeing the end product makes it all worth while. Instead of paying out money to professional trainers to execute the tasks for you, try doing it yourself for free. You will experience a sense of accomplishment knowing you can do it yourself. By following a few vital fundamentals in training you will discover a more satisfied pet right from your own home.

With your willingness to teach on your own, some frustration, and most importantly patience, you will be pleased with the results. My wife and I did all of the training on our puppy when we welcomed her into our home with great success and the help from a famous dog trainer Victoria Stilwell. In watching her show on television “It’s me or the dog,” and reading her book, "How to Have the Perfect Pet;" her ideas and training exercises helped us mentally wear our puppy out. A tired dog is a happy dog. If your dog is under-stimulated you may come across unwanted chewing, digging, or destroying of your belongings.

Below are the key factors in training your dog or puppy with the outcome of success.


First thing is first, you need to know what motivates your dog to perform. Does your dog like toys or treats? If you are lucky enough to be one of the few, you can get away using both for training. Most dogs are treat performers, but there are some that just want toys. If your dog is not into treats you can try using cut up chicken as a great way to get his attention.

Hand Signals

After knowing the motivational tactics you will be using, you can begin training. Remember, your dog does not speak a human language, so in order to get the dog to do what you ask of it you will need some hand signals. Hand signals will help the dog see what you want him to do visually. A great guide of hand signal uses is inVictoria’s book. We used most of what she had to get our dog on the road to victory.

For instance, to Sit; the dog is standing in front of you; you hold the treat in your hand with your palm up, cupping fingers upward. Now, take your hand with palm up, cupping fingers/hand upward holding the treat in your fingers, move it forward above the dog’s head and nose stopping right above its head. This will ultimately bring the nose of the dog up, in turn, having your dog sit at the same time. Once the dog sits, PRAISE him by saying “Good boy/girl,” and giving the treat to him. This will be the beginning of a beautiful training relationship.

Other hand signals could include; Stay/Wait – placing your hand in a stop sign motion, Lay/Down – after dog sits, place hand flat in front of head and motion downward keeping hand flat, Rollover – hand on floor lifting upward then downward in the shape of a horseshoe.

After the hand signals are being followed you can add the word for each command while the dog is in the act of performing the trick with the hand signal. He will then associate the trick with that word, thus making you believe that he understands your language. In time, it is always better to have your dog know sign language and voice commands. This may come in handy if your dog ever becomes handicapped in seeing or hearing.

Don’t Let It Get Frustrating

Do not try too many new tricks or commands at the same time. This may confuse your dog, ultimately causing your dog to lose interest in the training. He is willing to learn, but he wants to make sure he has one thing down before continuing the training. When you have your dog performing one command without a hitch you can move on to another. If they are not grasping the next command, go back to something they do know. This will help your pet not to get frustrated with the training. They might not catch on right away, but in time your dog will overcome and perform with pride.

If you are feeling frustrated with the training, the dog, or for whatever reason, walk away from it and play with your dog. It is better to make the training a cheerful time and not one with anger or resentment. Your dog can sense the frustration.

Play Time

Another crucial tip in training is giving your dog play time after the training session. Every dog needs to be able to unwind after learning new behaviors. For puppies, keep your training sessions short, maybe 5 to 8 minutes. For older dogs, you can have them last a little longer. Most training sessions should not exceed 15 minutes or so, but doing this up to 3 times a day will help your dog achieve its greatness. After each training session grab one of his other toys, not used for training and proceed to interact with him.

Praise and Patience

A couple other reminders while training include praising and patience. Every time your dog achieves what you ask of it you must praise. This is essential to showing a dog that his actions are being rewarded. Praising constitutes saying things like “Good girl/boy” or giving treats. Patience is needed, because you may get frustrated during the training. Frustration cannot be shown to the dog. He is only trying his best to learn from you. He will make mistakes, but do not let it get to you. Be patient. Your puppy or dog will succeed as long as you do not let him down by giving up. It will take time and a lot of effort on your part.

Don’t Stop Training

By providing simple obedience to your pet you will find that he/she will be more stimulated and tired. They will tend not to chew or dig as long as you are stimulating their brains. Another factor in training is to keep it going. A dog does not want to stop learning. He wants to please its owner and have plenty of good times! Even if you run out of new ideas, keep up with the old commands. You can even purchase stimulating dog games that you can use to help you out.

In order to help control your dog’s behaviors it is crucial to keep them stimulated mentally and physically. Keep in mind, that when a dog becomes bored, he can do some unsightly things to your possessions. You will be stunned with the results that are achieved by just interacting with your dog or puppy and following these guidelines. Have fun and enjoy your time with your beloved pet.


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