Few people realize it, but mental stimulation is very important tomanimals.
Boredom is the worst enemy of pets, especially dogs, cats and birds. A lack of exercise and mental stimulation is often the cause of behavioral problems like:
o excessive barking
o Pica (ingestion of inedible items)
o Feather destruction behavior (chronic pecking)
o Compulsive / obsessive behaviors: excessive licking in cats for example.
Some animals need more stimulation and more exercise than others like:
o Hunting dogs (eg German pointer)
o Shepherd dogs (eg border collie)
o Some breeds of cats such as Siamese and Bengals
o Some parrot breeds such as African Gray, Macaws, Lovebirds, Cockatoos
These are just a few examples and there are also individuals who at first sight do not seem to require much stimulation, but who ask a lot.
There are two main ways to stimulate animals: exercise and play. Sometimes the game is the actual exercise.
EXAMPLES OF DOG GAMES
On the Montreal SPCA blog, you can find the title of ten games for your dog (see link), it is mentioned that in terms of energy expenditure, 15 minutes of mental stimulation is equivalent to 1 hour of running for your dog!
Unfortunately we could not validate this information, but it is nevertheless interesting. It’s a bit hard to believe to compare 60 minutes of jogging for a human (540 calories) with 15 minutes of Scrabble.
So here are 3 examples of games, taken from the SPCA blog
1. Food dispensing ball: it is a ball with holes, which is filled with food (croquettes). At first, we fill the ball so that the dog learns quickly how it works, then we can put the portion that should be eaten for the chosen period of time.
2. The pinata for dogs. Place kibbles in an empty container (eg, milk carton or roll of toilet paper). Make sure the dog does not eat cardboard and all openings are clogged.
3. Hide and Seek: Show your dog his favorite treat, then hide it in an easily accessible place, for example in the corner of a room to start, then behind a door.
There are seven other examples. It is mentioned at the end of the article to watch your dog when he plays with objects so that he does not ingest materials. If your pet is possessive with his food, keep strangers or children away during this type of activity.
EXAMPLES OF CAT GAMES
Here are 3 examples of cat games from the SPCA blog (see link for details).
The cat is a mainly nocturnal animal and therefore must be offered activities during the day so that it sleeps at night.
1. Toys Aïkiou: Fill the toy with croquettes or canned food. To make the task more difficult, freeze it before giving it to your cat or hang it on a doorknob with a rope.
2. The SlimCat dispenser ball: same principle as for dogs. The first time, fill the ball with kibble to the brim so that it comes out easily when your cat operates it.After a while, your pet will have fun alone for long periods.
In the same vein, there is a game that is made in the shape of a pierced cylinder and whose name is Pipolino.
3. Frolicat Flik (a rope that mimics the movement of a mouse’s tail) and the Frolicat Pounce (imitates the movement of a mouse running in circles).
EXAMPLES OF GAMES FOR PARROTS
1. Transparent ball with holes, in which a stimulating reward is placed (seeds, peanuts, dried fruit …). This ball is attached by a safe chain above the cage and hangs near a perch.
2. Piece of untreated white pine, of the appropriate size for the target bird, into which holes are drilled and seeds mixed with peanut butter are inserted into the holes.
EXAMPLES OF GAMES FOR RABBITS
1. Timoty Club Bungalow from Oxbow Company: House for Rabbit Braided in Hay. In addition to being able to hide, the rabbit can nibble.
2. Simply take the rabbit out of his cage (under supervision) and hide his favorite food. Same principle as the game of hiding with your dog mentioned for dogs.
For neophytes, it may seem ridiculous to buy toys to mentally stimulate your pet, whatever it is. Know that it is the same for zoological garden animals and God knows that these animals need a lot of mental stimulation to make them forget their captivity.
How to occupy your cat
Ten games to keep your dog busy
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact a member of the Clinic’s medical team (514-634-4190), who will be happy to assist you.
About the Clinic: The Lachine Veterinary Clinic offers unparalleled personalized service to pet owners in Lachine, LaSalle, Dorval and Pointe-Claire, as well as throughout the West Island of Montreal ( West Island) and Laval, since 1982.