There are a lot of articles out there that talk about dogs and mental health. Science has shown that owning a dog can be beneficial to individuals who struggle with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. They offer comfort, companionship, and love us unconditionally.
But many dog owners are not aware that dogs can themselves suffer from mental health issues like aggression, anxiety, and depression. Many dogs have separation anxiety and fear of being left alone. These mental health issues can sometimes lead to behavioral problems such as aggression or even physical health issues if left untreated.
Most of what a dog needs is pretty easy to figure out: Food, water, cuddles, walks, grooming and socializing. But dogs are smart and need to use their brain regularly – and this is a little bit tougher to provide. Mental stimulation is a great way to work on your dog’s mental fitness. Keeping your dog’s brain active plays a large role in their behavior and their physical health, and can help keep your dog healthier and happier for longer.
There are many ways to mentally stimulate your dog, and some mental enrichment comes from regular activities such as walks or socializing with other dogs. There are also toys specifically designed to get the dog to use their brain, and even DIY games that you can make yourself. You can try to stimulate your dog through some nose work by making your own snuffle mat.
However, dogs today are spending more time home alone while their owners work, and they are generally not getting enough mental exercise. In some cases, this leads to behavioral problems such as excessive barking, whining, or chewing up furniture due to restlessness or anxiety. A lot of physically healthy dogs are put down due to behavioral issues. Other dogs develop learned helplessness, a concept described by psychologist Martin Seligman, which results in depression, obesity, and illness, and can lead to premature death.
There is a great guide on canine mental health at The Spruce Pets if you want to learn more.
At Go Dogo, we want to improve and save dog lives. We believe that through our unique entertainment system for dogs, we can help keep your dog mentally healthy in a way that is both fun, stimulating and safe – even while you are not home. The Go Dogo game adapts to your dog’s learning pace and gradually increases the difficulty of the tasks to match your dog’s progress.
We believe in positive reinforcement training, and the Go Dogo game is built using this principle. We also understand that the most effective dog training – no matter how much fun it is – should not go on for too long, so our sessions are designed to last only a limited amount of time (5-30 minutes), depending on the dog’s energy level and difficulty of the game.
Finally, we always make sure to end the game on a high. That means that every Go Dogo session will conclude with an exercise that the dog always gets right. And after the final treat reward the instructor on the screen will give the game-over cue: “All gone”, and the dog knows that it is over, and will in most cases go and take a well-deserved nap.