Computer games can help keep dogs entertained and avoid onset of dementia -study

Due to life in lockdown being so lonely, many people decided to adopt or buy dogs to keep them company while they were stuck indoors.

Lockdown led to a massive surge in the number of pets being purchased. Since early in 2020, around 3.2 million households in the UK have gotten a new pet, according to figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association

While these fuzzy creatures no doubt bring joy and love into our lives, as life returns to normal, having new pets, especially ones that aren't used to being left at home, can lead to complications.

Now that people are going back to work, many are struggling to take care of the pets they bought during the lockdown and are being forced to return them to shelters. As a result, animal shelters are being overrun with pets.

One in Warrington had to close its doors and blamed it on people becoming bored with their lockdown pets, TeamDogs reports.

Bored dogs may develop more serious health problems

Many dogs are going to increasingly be left alone at home as owners get out and about a bit more than they did previously, and bored dogs, or those not stimulated enough, can develop health problems.

Dogs need mental and physical stimulation and aside from regular exercise, one way to keep a dog entertained is with modern technology (yep, it's basically like handing an iPad or phone to a child!).

They can learn new skills, which is especially important for older dogs to keep them mentally stimulated and to avoid the onset of dog dementia, also known as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).

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In fact, training dogs to play touchscreen video games can supplement, or even replace more physically demanding exercise for older dogs. These games can still keep them happy, healthy, and alert.

In a study, 130 dogs aged six and over were trained using their noses rather than paws to move objects on a screen. A mix of breeds were included and all the dogs finished the first two phases of the game, with a third scoring at least 20 out of 30.

Owners of the dogs afterwards said they were amazed by how their dogs picked up new skills and enjoyed the weekly training session.

The best way to keep your dog mentally fit

It’s essential to train your dog's brain along with their body and Battersea suggests using food as a motivator and making mentally stimulating games part of their everyday routine.

It says using a portion of your dog’s daily food for games will avoid overfeeding and also provide a motivator for them to play.

Creating your own games is also a good idea, and won’t cost you anything. There are lots of toys and interactive feeders available to buy, or you could make your own.

One is a ‘destruction box’ which you can make if you fill an old cardboard box with scrunched up balls of paper or anything that is safe for your dog to tear up, scatter their dry food and some of their favourite toys into it, and then let them get to work.

A toy where your dog’s food is hidden inside, and they need to move around to release it, will also give them a mix of physical and mental exercise.

There are lots more tips and advice on the best brain games for dogs on the Battersea website. And if your boss is kind, you could even take your dog to work for you – although, they probably won't need their own computer.

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