Brain Games and Complex Environments Increase Intelligence in Dogs
Proven fact: The brains of animals that have lived in a changing or varied and more complex environment actually become larger than dogs who don’t. New connections develop between existing neurons in the cortex as a result of varied experiences. Recent evidence demonstrates that it is even possible to grow new neural cells in important areas of the brain that are associated with learning, memory and the organization of behavior. We can actually change the physiology of our dog’s brain. By providing certain experiences for him/her, we can actually contribute to making their brain larger and more efficient, making for more intelligence and giving them better stress resistance.
The important aspects of the animal’s experience which cause these positive changes in their brains involves exposure to a wide variety of interesting places and things that provide new, different, and exciting experiences – playing brain games.
Of course, It is always more desirable when these are experiences are combined with frequent opportunities to learn new things, solve problems and to freely investigate, manipulate, and interact with objects and environmental features. Research and Studies are showing that this leads to individuals who not only tend to be more inquisitive and are more able to learn quickly and perform complex tasks, but who also who are less fearful and emotional.
Recent research by psychologist Norton W. Milgram and his associates at the University of Toronto have shown that the benefits of such experiences are not restricted to growing puppies. Adults and even elderly animals, not only benefit from having richer environments, but these problem solving experiences seem to help to offset the usual decline in mental efficiency that is seen in older dogs.
Interactive “brain games” not only tire out an energetic puppy or dog, but they also are great for defeating boredom, increasing the dog’s confidence, and strengthening your bond as you work together as a team. There are many great activities that you can do with your dog, all of which exercise their brain and many cases exercise the body as well.
Here are 11 ideas to get you started: