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Mental stimulation wasn’t something I thought much about with other family pets, but that definitely wasn’t an option when I got my Shiba Inu.
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for Shiba Inus. Regular play and exercise will tire them out, helping calm them down, but it won’t prevent destructive behaviors. Most Shiba Inus get bored easily, and if left alone, will find their own form of entertainment.
Destructive chewing was something I struggled with when my Shiba Inu was a puppy, partially due to teething, but I also wasn’t properly occupying her time. I wasn’t accounting for the fact she needed more mental stimulation to stave off boredom.
Mental Stimulation Is Important For Shiba Inus
Shiba Inus are an intelligent breed that’s full of energy, the downside is they get bored just like you and me.
Boredom is one of the most common problems Shiba Inu owners struggle with on a day-to-day basis, and if left alone, it’ll slowly get worse. Many Shibas love to chew and commonly turn to destructive chewing when they don’t have anything appropriate to focus their time and energy on, like a chew toy.
But bad chewing habits aren’t the only result of a bored Shiba, many struggling to find something to do often aren’t meeting their necessary daily play and exercise time. Shiba Inus have loads of energy that needs to be burned to help keep them calm and happy.
Adult Shibas need at least one full hour of play and exercise per day, Shiba Inu puppies are closer to half an hour. But a few rounds of tug-of-war or an extra walk or two aren’t your only option when it comes to mentally stimulating your Shiba Inu.
But first, let me quickly go over the differences between mental and physical stimulation.
Mental Stimulation vs. Exercise: What’s the Difference?
Mental stimulation focuses on your pet’s mind with things like training, chewing, puzzles, or music. It gives your Shiba something to focus on for minutes or even hours at a time. It also doesn’t require a lot of space, depending on your activity of choice.
Exercise, or even play, is used to burn any excess energy your Shiba may have. Helping to calm them down but not always tiring them out enough mentally to prevent boredom. Extra energy may leave a Shiba zooming around the house, but they get into real trouble when they don’t have anything to focus on for extended periods of time.
Common Mentally Stimulating Activities For Shiba Inus
Training is one of the best ways to mentally stimulate your Shiba Inu. Not only does it help the two of you bond but they end up learning a new command or cementing one you two have recently started. But commands aren’t your only option, teaching you Shiba a new trick is just as effective at working out their mind.
Long Walks – And Let Them Sniff Around
Walks are more of a physical task for your pet, especially if you keep them on a short leash the entire time. While we as people have the luxury of turning to our smartphones whenever we have a couple of minutes to spare our pets don’t have that option.
The way I see it, letting your Shiba Inu wander around and investigate on your walks is their version of a smartphone. While yes, it’s not as convenient, it does keep them busy, and interested in the world around them, and at times provides them an opportunity to socialize. All of which is mentally stimulating for your Shiba Inu.
Play Games With Them
Play is a great way to get your pup’s mind thinking. Fetch, tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, treat scavenger hunts, and really any form of play will mentally stimulate you Shiba Inu, including chasing them around the house. They all also help burn any excess energy your Shiba may have, making them more likely to calm down and take a nap soon after. This is especially true if they’re a puppy.
Puzzle toys are a common go-to for mentally stimulating this breed. They’re easy for people to set up, very durable, and can keep a Shiba Inu busy for a long time thanks to the rewards your pet earns after solving part of a puzzle.
4 Ways To Entertain A Shiba Inu When You Aren’t Home
Give Them Their Favorite Chew Toy
If you don’t have a puzzle toy, or don’t want your Shiba playing with it unsupervised, chew toys are another fantastic option for keeping them occupied. Chewing is a more mentally stimulating task for your pet than you might think, and it helps keep their teeth clean! Chew toys are also great for protecting your carpet and furniture from a bored Shiba’s random chewing, which is a real problem when they’re teething.
Whether you are with your Shiba Inu or not puzzle toys are great at mentally stimulating your Shiba Inu. Everything I said earlier on them still applies here with once caveat. If you are willing to let your Shiba play with them while you are away from home, I recommend giving it a try. Most are made from durable materials that stand up well to chewing, and if you leave your Shiba’s favorite chew toy nearby, they’re less likely to try destroying their puzzle toy.
Leave A TV On Or Music Playing When You Leave The House
If you find your Shiba Inu is getting into trouble when you leave your house try leaving a tv on or music playing. Background noise isn’t as mentally stimulating for your Shiba Inu as chewing is, but it’s a lot better than being stuck at home, alone, in complete silence. Nothing about that sounds fun or exciting, so it’s no surprise they get into trouble in those situations.
Sometimes the best way to keep a Shiba Inu occupied is to actively interact with them. Everyday pet services like dog walkers or doggy daycare are great options for those busy pet owners who want their Shiba to be happy and well taken care of but presently don’t have the time due to work or other scheduling conflicts. It happens, ideally we as the owner would be playing and walking our Shibas, but it’s hard to do that if you are on a business trip, vacation, and so on.
How Long Can A Shiba Inu Be Left Alone?
Adult Shiba Inus can be left alone for up to 8 hours, that number varies for puppies. Typically ranging between 1 to 4 hours depending on your puppy’s age. Younger Shiba Inu puppies have a harder time “holding it”, and need more frequent bathroom breaks to prevent accidents.
Summary Of How To Keep A Shiba Inu Mentally Stimulated
Shiba Inus are an intelligent high-energy breed that unfortunately gets bored easily if they are left on their own for extended periods of time. Many owners that struggle to properly mentally stimulate their Shiba’s also struggle with destructive chewing, and that’s no surprise because they’re often the result of one another.
Most Shiba’s are chewers, and if they don’t have an appropriate toy to occupy their time, they’ll find their own form of entertainment. Long walks where you let them regularly sniff around, focused training sessions, or several minutes of play are great ways you can mentally stimulate your Shiba. Helping both tire them out and save your furniture.
Puzzle toys, chew toys, and leaving the tv on or music playing are all valid options to keep your Shiba Inu occupied while you are away from home. But depending on their age it’s only recommended you rely on them for a few hours. If you are going to be away from your pet for extended periods of time, for 8 hours or longer, I recommend you look into either doggy daycare or pet walking services. Both will keep an eye on your Shiba to make sure they are safe, happy, healthy, and aren’t going to have an accident while you’re gone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chewing Mental Stimulation For Dogs?
Chewing does mentally stimulate your dog, even more so than running. Chewing give your dog a chance to lie down and focus, cleaning their teeth and having fun in the process. Chewing is especially important when they’re a puppy as it helps relieve teething pains.
Is TV Mentally Stimulating For Dogs?
An easy way to keep your dog mentally stimulated while you are away from home is by leaving the tv on or music playing. It’s not as stimulating as chewing or a puzzle toy, but it is better than leaving your pet completely silent at home. It’s best to pair a chew toy with tv or music.
How Do You Mentally Stimulate A Lazy Dog?
Most dogs are motivated by food and play. Use treats to get your pet’s attention to incentivize them to play. Another thing you can do is hide treats around your home and let your dog seek them out like a scavenger hunt. As for play, use your pet’s favorite toy to start a round of fetch or tug-of-war.