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Learning New Tricks Keeps Dogs Mentally Sharp

Learning New Tricks Keeps Dogs Mentally Sharp

It’s Never Too Late to Learn

You know the saying – you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But as it turns out, that’s just a load of bologna. In fact, the latest research shows that canines of all ages, from spry puppies to graying seniors, respond wonderfully to brain-stimulating activities. And the benefits go far beyond just keeping their minds sharp.

I’ll be the first to admit, when I first heard about this, I was a bit skeptical. My own pup, Maggie, is getting up there in years. She used to be a ball of energy, always ready to learn a new command or trick. But lately, she’s been spending most of her days napping in her favorite sunny spot. The thought of getting her engaged in any sort of mental workout had me worried it would just wear her out.

Boy, was I wrong. After doing some digging, I discovered that regular “brain training” can actually revitalize older dogs, boosting their motivation and engagement – and giving them a new zest for life. And the best part? It’s easy to do at home, with just a little bit of time and creativity.

The Science Behind Keeping Dogs Mentally Fit

The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, is pretty fascinating. Over the course of several years, they tested hundreds of dogs (and even some wolves!) on touchscreen-based cognitive challenges.

The setup was simple – the animals were trained to use their snouts to interact with shapes, images, and other objects displayed on a touchscreen. At first, it took weeks of patient training. But eventually, even the older pups were able to reliably press the right image to earn a tasty treat.

As one of the researchers, Dr. Lisa Wallis, explained to NBC News, “The fact that the older dogs were able to learn such abstract and sometimes difficult tasks was very encouraging.”

And it wasn’t just that the dogs could do it – they actually enjoyed the process. The researchers found that the owners reported “positive benefits of the training in their dogs’ everyday lives.” Meaning, the mental workouts weren’t just keeping their brains sharp – they were actually making the pups happier and more engaged overall.

Putting It into Practice

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to engage Maggie and keep her feeling her best. So after learning about this research, I knew I had to give it a try.

I started by setting aside a few minutes each day for some interactive puzzle toys and training sessions. At first, Maggie was a bit skeptical – she’d much rather be napping! But with some patience and positive reinforcement, she started to get the hang of it. And lo and behold, I started noticing a real difference in her energy and enthusiasm.

She’s more playful, more alert, and definitely less prone to those afternoon slumps. And the best part? It’s been a blast for both of us. There’s nothing quite like the look of pride on her face when she solves a new puzzle or masters a new trick. It’s like she’s discovered a whole new zest for life.

Keeping Your Senior Pup Mentally Fit

Of course, every dog is different. And what works for Maggie might not be the perfect fit for your furry friend. But the researchers are hopeful that these findings will lead to the development of more commercial “brain game” products for dogs.

As the experts at Perryville Pet Hospital suggest, the key is finding activities that cater to your dog’s natural behaviors and interests. For some pups, that might mean a food puzzle toy that keeps them engaged during mealtime. For others, it could be a digging box in the backyard, or even just brushing up on old tricks and commands.

The important thing is to keep your senior pup mentally stimulated, whether that’s through structured training sessions or just spicing up their daily routine. Because as it turns out, you really can teach an old dog new tricks – and the benefits go far beyond just keeping their minds sharp.

So why not head on over to and check out some brain-boosting toys and activities? Your pup will thank you – and you might just have a little fun in the process too.

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