1. Play some free shaping games
A fun training opportunity is the basic principle of shaping games. Essentially, shaping games encourage your dog to attempt something new. By allowing him the chance to make his own decisions and use him imagination, his mental and physical flexibility will increase.
Simply begin with a box on the ground, and without any cues from you, let your dog inspect and examine it, and decide what to do. This provides him with a lot of mental stimulation, and shaping can be used with any item, not only a box.
2. Make an obstacle course for your dog
Teaching your dog to make his way through an obstacle course is a great mental workout. If you do not own any poles or agility jumps, do not worry as you can make your own or simply find things around the house that could work.
Gather up a blanket, a selection of toys, and something that could act as a sort of hazard cone (you might even be able to find these at a dollar store).
You can teach your dog commands such as “Jump over this broomstick”, “Go to your blanket”, or “Weave” through the ‘cones’. Whatever commands apply to the objects you have set up. This is a good way to teach your dog new tricks. The benefit, of course, to all this effort is that it is a wonderful way to mentally stimulate your dog, and you are not simply asking him to do one thing, you are asking him to do one thing after another.
3. Engage in more interactive play with your dog
Your dog loves to play with your, and engaging him in interactive play is a simple method to keep him mentally stimulated. Play might feel incredibly basic, but it is easy for us to underestimate just how vital it is for dogs. Studies have shown that the more a dog is involved in play, the less likely he is to develop and suffer from behavioral issues.
Interactive play is when you are actively playing with your dog. Fetch and Tug of War are good examples of interactive play, and those kinds of games help marvelously when it comes to providing him with more mental stimulation. Not to mention, any game you play with him will strengthen your bond.
BONUS! Play the shell game with your dog.
You may be familiar with the shell game, but have you ever thought to play it with your dog? Find 3 identical containers (cups, small tupperware, etc), place them upside down in front of your dog, and hide a treat beneath one of them. Shuffle them around and allow your dog to attempt to select the correct container.
You need to allow him to see you place the treat under one of the containers before you shuffle them around. When you have amply shuffled, encourage him to “Find the treat”. Praise him when he discovers its location. The shell game will provide more mental stimulation and allows him to hone his problem solving skills.