10 dog breeds that need mental activity

Dog digging outdoors

It’s true that all dogs need some physical and mental activity to stay fit and healthy, but some dog breeds thrive on extra mental stimulation, most notably, working breeds, hounds and terriers.

Alongside behavioural training exercises, agility plays a big part in mental stimulation for dogs. This is because when puppers are physically exercising, they’re also encountering new things and using their minds to explore. Mental stimulation also helps to prevent negative behaviours such as barking, aggression and destruction.

Some well-known active breeds include:

1. Border Collie

Bred for herding, Border Collies are extremely smart and require constant mental and physical exercise. This highly trainable breed is known for its intense stare or ‘eye’ with which they control their flock. These puppers appear to have unlimited energy, stamina and working drive. Border Collies also excel in various canine sports, including obedience, flyball, agility, tracking and flying disc competitions. For this reason, Collies are not really suited to apartment living. If you live in a city, they will need a lot of time at the beach or park to keep them out of trouble!

2. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are known for their guarding, herding and hunting instincts. They are a high-energy breed and require vigorous mental and physical activity, and are happiest when they have a job to do. They can be wonderful family companions provided they have an outlet for their energy, both mentally and psychically.

3. Siberian Husky

Originally bred as sled dogs, the Siberian Husky has boundless endurance. These athletic and intelligent dogs also have a reputation for being escape artists! Keeping them mentally stimulated using enrichment techniques is essential to help prevent boredom and any escapee or runaway situations.

4. Retrievers

Labradors, Golden Retrievers and the Nova-Scotia Duck Tolling dog are all retrievers. These high energy puppers were originally bred as hunting companions and retrievers, and are now also used as service, rescue and detection animals. They are eager to please and need constant stimulation to keep their cognitive health in check.

5. German Shepherd

This devoted and courageous breed is highly intelligent and often used for police, military and service. They thrive in environments where they are stimulated, trained and busy, and daily exercise is a must, including physical and mental training sessions.

6. Pointer

Bred for several hundred years to ‘point’ birds and small game such as rabbits, the Pointer is a versatile field dog and exceptional family dog breed. They excel in many arenas, from the field to the show ring, agility to obedience. Pointer breeds are enthusiastic and active, and require loads of daily activity to ensure they don’t develop negative behaviours such as chewing and digging. They need plenty of space to play and love a stimulating puzzle or game.

7. Dalmatian

Dalmatians are known for more than their spots! This athletic breed has a reputation for endurance and can last on long runs. If you’re looking for a jogging partner and friend who’ll love you unconditionally, this may be the breed for you! They can however, become destructive if they are deprived of mental and physical stimulation, so introducing fun ways to expend their energy is key.

8. Pinscher

Pinscher breeds include the Doberman, German Pinscher, Miniature Pinscher, Austrian Pinscher and the Affenpinscher. They are an intelligent dog often bred for guarding and security. This high energy pupper requires loads of physical and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

9. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers are lively, independent and clever little dogs. These puppers need plenty of exercise and firm, consistent training, or they may get up to mischief. Given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation your Jack Russell could easily be one of the smartest in your pack.

10. Australian Cattle Dog

This is an extremely intelligent, active and sturdy dog breed. Developed by Australian settlers to handle herds of cattle on outback stations, they’re still used today as a trusted mustering dog. They thrive on having a job to do and love being part of all family activities!

Every dog is different

Despite their breed, all dogs, like humans, have their quirks. Even if your pup is not included in this list, they will still require some mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. You know your pupper best, so keep an eye out for their cues and signs that they may need a little more (or less!) activity in their daily routine, with an individually appropriate exercise and enrichment plan the best option for their health, wellness and overall happiness.

It is also important to be aware that some dogs can get frustrated if their problem solving and enrichment activities are too difficult for them, so be sure to monitor this. We would always recommend speaking to your vet if you are concerned about your pupper’s mental wellbeing.

Lyka: complete and balanced for all breeds, ages, and activity levels

Each of our six recipes are carefully formulated by our in-house vet, Dr. Matthew Muir. Our meals include of a colourful mix of vegetables and superfoods, as well as optimal ratios of protein, fat and carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. They are designed with your pupper’s health and happiness as the top priority. Our recipes also include cognitive-boosting ingredients like quinoa, egg, fish oil, and purple and red sweet potatoes – each nutritionally balanced for your pupper’s physical and mental health.

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