Why Mentally Stimulated Dogs are Happier and Better Adjusted

mentally stimulated dogs are happier and better adjusted, puppy training, dog training

There is a common misconception that happy dogs should just be “dogs”, and live life with little to no training or rules.

The truth is, these dogs are actually miserable.

Ironically, they often also become aggressive as a result!

Imagine a child who is treated the same.

Children who are given everything, with little to no rules, often become bullies and expect the world to be given to them.

This is very unrealistic, and as the child ages, LIFE steps in and teaches difficult lessons.

Mentally Stimulated Dogs are Happier and Better Adjusted

In my line of work, I see all kinds of dogs.

I see dogs that are spoiled and given everything.

I see dogs with aggression issues.

And, I see and work with many working dogs.

Working Dogs

Honestly, I believe that working dogs (dogs that literally work for a living, i.e. police dogs, service dogs, guide dogs) are the happiest dogs on earth.

mentally stimulated dogs are happier and better adjusted, puppy training, dog trainingWorking dogs feel as if they are needed.

They literally HAVE A JOB.

They are almost constantly mentally stimulated and asked to provide a service that they have been taught to accomplish!

I think it is heart-wrenching when they must be retired, because these dogs would work till the end of their lives if it was up to them!

They live to go to work and do the job that they have been taught to complete.

Clearly, working dogs have gone through extensive dog obedience training and advanced training that takes them to the level where they work.

Also, it is clear that they have rules that they must follow in order to provide the service of their job.

This negates the idea that dogs should be spoiled and not given any structure.


Imagine for a moment, that I come to your house and take you back home with me.

You are going to be my pet!

I am going to give you a bed and lock you in a room with 4 white walls and no way to get out on your own.

I will shut you in this room for the night (or I might let you sleep on the end of my bed).

But, I will also shut you in here each day when I travel off to work for 8-10 hours or more.

When I get home from work, I will shower you with love and affection, food and toys.

Would this drive you crazy?

I went through a period of time in my life when my significant other didn’t want me working.

Thank goodness, as a human, I was capable of getting on my computer and watching TV.

But, right now, I LIVE for going to work and interacting with my friends, coworkers, and clients.

I can’t imagine the sadness and depression I would feel if I did not have this kind of mental stimulation and interaction.

Your Dog

Your dog can’t read books, he can’t watch TV, and he can’t interact with his friends on social media.

He can’t even figure out how to get out and see his friends!

mentally stimulated dogs are happier and better adjusted, puppy training, dog trainingHow on earth could this be a fulfilling life?

Even if you work and crate train your dog, you can provide him with training and mental stimulation when you get home and on your days off!

He doesn’t want to sit around and have his brain rot.

He doesn’t want to be “spoiled”.

He wants rules and knowledge.

He wants a JOB!

My Dogs

I have trained Service Dogs for much of my career.

I have seen first-hand how happy these dogs are to work and how much more fulfilled they seem.

I use this knowledge to ensure that my dogs feel the same!

Although I don’t “need” a Service Dog, I teach my dogs to retrieve so they can help me pick things up and assist me with the laundry.

NEVER, ever, ever has my dog acted like a child when it comes to chores.

In fact, my dog is sincerely upset if I don’t ask for her help when I switch out laundry, or drop an item.

My dogs want to feel as if they have a purpose!

Just like I want to feel like I have a purpose.

You don’t have to be extravagant! You just need to teach your dog a few simple basic obedience commands and then work with him several times a day.

You can also teach him tricks and ask him to perform for you and your family.

He doesn’t care what you ask him to do, he just wants to have his mind and body stimulated!

A Recent Client of Mine

I was at a new client’s house this past Saturday.

Her puppy, 7 months old, is out of control and starting to show some demanding behavior and aggression.

And, although the puppy had been to puppy class, not much has been done with him since.

His mind is rotting.

So I went to their home, sat and listened to the problems, and evaluated the dog’s behaviors.

The dog was “off the chain” when it came to excitement and lack of impulse control.

He climbed me, scratched me, bit me, barked at me and otherwise showed a gamut of bad behaviors.

I simply sat in a chair and quietly waited.

Eventually he gave up mauling me for treats and laid down on the kitchen floor.

It was at that point I tossed him a treat.

Within 5 minutes this crazed, sometimes aggressive dog that lacked all impulse control was laying down and putting his head down because he realized it would get him what he wanted.

It was actually quite amazing to see! Even the owner was flabbergasted!

I laid it out on the line.

Ignoring the dog’s needs and giving him everything he wanted was ensuring bad behavior.

This dog needed mental stimulation, training, and a job!

He was too intelligent to lie idly by with no stimulation.

It doesn’t take much, just a few jobs, proper training, and a few precious moments spent with your dog each day will help to turn around his behavior!

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  1. Gil Koplenik says:

    This is a question not a comment. We rescued a two yo Lhasapoo two years ago. Spenser is our first ever dog, and he immediately fell in love with my wife. If I’m home he will only walk with both of us. If I’m gone he will walk with my wife. If my wife is gone he will not walk with me. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks and Merry Christmas


  2. Judy says:

    Thank you. I’m going to try this.


  3. Hemelscott says:

    I have trained my dobermann to fetch the post when it arrives and she absolutely enjoys doing it. She will also fetch my slippers for me she thinks its a really fun game. They even nearly get to me!! Shame the postman only comes once a day.


  4. Kathy says:

    I would love to order the Trick Training Guide as I have Jack Russell mix puppy who was completely bored after he could do everything in obedience class in 5 minutes. He is very smart and high energy but acts out the minute we stop paying attention to him. The problem is I ordered some things from you when he was younger and had trouble viewing them. I have a tablet, not computer. Is there a better way to download these on a mobile device?


  5. JoAnn says:

    Thank you for this. I am a guilty one.


  6. Marcie Goldman says:

    I want to train my dog to retrieve my cellphone. I spend too much unnecessary time looking for it and I know this will be a win-win for Sammy and me! How do I do this?


  7. Home Sasso says:

    Please, take my dog! I can’t train him! I love him, but he’s to active for me and my disability.


  8. Karen says:

    I have a mini aussie,she is only2 almost 3, I’ve been trying to teach her to pick up things, but the only things she will p/u is a pen and her toys.She won’t put them where I want her to even though I’ve shown her many times. Same thing with yard work,she will collect all the twigs in the yard but won’t drop in wood pile.Any ideas.She does know DROP command! Karen from CT


  9. Midkey says:

    absolutely right on Chet ! I have 4 dogs, 2 Chis…one Golden Shep cross and one purebred Shepherd.
    Each of my dogs are required to do chores., yes, even the 14 year old Chihuahua !!
    If nothing else but to put her toys away in the basket at the end of tht night, you can see the light in her failing eyes when she gets her reward…a run around the living room playing gottcha !! And a teeny piece of apple. She then totters off to her bed totally satisfied with her life:) SO cute !
    The others? Same deal…all toys must be put away at night before i go to bed. I am not a kid anymore…and falling over a toy left out in the dark is NOT happening at my house.
    Each dog is taught to “find”…each dog is taught to ..”Give”….each dog is taught to rest when it’s time. Without structure…and a JOB to do? They would lose their minds.
    I ALMOST gave up on my young Shepherd…THE BEAST !! But once I realized this breed was bred to WORK?(Shame on me) It all fell into place. She is now an emotional support dog and therapy dog..and runs to put her vest on like a little kid. SHE LOVES TO GO TO WORK !! And I am SO proud to have such a well trained and behaved dog.
    My vet has told me time and time again ..( a few visits after an injury)…this is the MOST well behaved Shepherd I have ever seen. ! He said he usually knows when a Shepherd is coming in by the whining and crying and owners constant threats for the dog to do what it won’t do. The dogs attack other clients…they drag thier owners down..and some even have to wait outside because they cannot control their own dogs.
    He asked me…Who trained this dog? I said proudly..ME ! From day one…my dogs are trained. EVERY action has a command so there is no confusion. IN that vets office, my dog lies quietly and totally calm watching the other bad kids. She is taught to PLACE…while I pay my bill. For us? Place means to come around in between my legs and sit quietly. That way I know where she is at all times. She is truly an angel…and was a total devil girl when I got her 🙂
    I know this is long…but if everyone knew how important a JOB is for a dog? 90% of the anxiety will be gone. !! Try training your dog to even do one simple trick and watch how happy they are when you show others !!!


  10. Roxann Carey says:

    This makes a lot of sense, I will definately try this with RyLeigh she just turned 1 and is slowly becoming a loving and loyal friend.


  11. Karin Collinsworth says:

    This is a genius tip for creating a happy dog – and it just takes a few minutes a day!


  12. Zela Charlton says:

    This is such a good expiation of how to make dogs happy ! I have an intelligent Labrador, who looks after me constantly. I am not allowed in house without putting on my slippers. He finds my cellphone. He tells me when the timer on the stove is ringing. He knows so much… but I am running out of things to get him to help me with. He does not really like just playing ball and can’t see the point of retrieving something I do not really need, since I then throw it away again… any ideas welcome.


  13. Shrikant Terde says:


    I was following this from quite long time.
    I taught my dog more that 10 tricks and practice them every day at least 15 minuets. I can see clear difference when i go to my friend’s house, We got our dog from same breeder if fact that are sisters.
    Training your dog every day is must to keep your dog happy


  14. carolyn grdich says:

    Thank you very much! I’m going to master this one for sure. Way too excited when company comes over… I’ll let you know when this is mastered.


  15. Ken says:

    I have a great 2 yr old rottie very good and well trained except for food aggression towards 2 much older and much smaller dogs and also toward people we keep the dogs separated during the day for the old ones safety any advice on why he’s guarding his food and how to get him to stop thanks


  16. I think what you say us very true. Dogs have to learn some kind of a value
    system. If they are not taught that THEY must cooperate instead of
    just being allowed to TAKE, TAKE, TAKE, they are not TRULY happy or contented animals.

    Working FOR you and WITH you is what gives much meaning to a dog’s life.
    To spoil a dog and never demand cooperation / responsibility in return for being
    treated well does NOT produce a well adjusted, happy animal.
    The same goes for bring up children. You MUST teach babies / children
    this lesson, as well. They ultimately be better off for it.



  17. Margaret Doud says:

    I have a black lab about nine months. He knows all basic commands and is well behaved except for lately he has been very demanding with play and barks at every little noise outside. How can I teach him that no one wants to play non stop and every noise is not a reason to bark?!


  18. Jo says:

    I have 2 dogs one is 6 years old and one is 15 months
    They are both active in obedience, herding, agility,and anything else they show any interest in doing.
    I work from home and am with them mostly 24 hours a day.
    The one thing I think you missed is how much dogs sleep.
    They do sleep more than people do.
    And both of my dogs get a little crankier when they do not have enough sleep.
    Both of them are Bouviers.


    Minette Reply:

    My dogs barely sleep, depends on the dog


  19. Wilma Miller says:

    Thought provoking. I take my dog to an “off leash” puppy park every morning to play with her friends, 1-2 hrs. She never wants to leave, I have to either trick her or run her down to leave. The “come” command never works at the park. It seems like she forgets everything when we are at the park. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    A dog that doesn’t respond to commands shouldn’t get the privilege of being at the dog park. i would focus more on training than playing.


  20. Lynda Muller says:

    As an animal communicator I too often come to ‘problem ‘ dogs who will tell me that there has been a change in their household and now they have ‘no job’ or are unsure of their ‘new role or job’ or they don’t ‘feel special ‘ anymore.trying to convince the owners how to make their dog have a job or make them feel special again is so difficult.
    I just disagree with one point you made – “I think it is heart-wrenching when they must be retired, because these dogs would work till the end of their lives if it was up to them! – ” my GSD’s all came to a point in their lives where they were happy to hand over to the youngsters and retire. They all worked very hard because my work entails a lot of working in remote often not so safe environments. they not only had to be mt eyes and ears for people danger, but for wild animals and snakes. also to keep track of where we were and look after my equipment. they were exhausted after a day out and enjoyed their year end break of just goofing off at home doing nothing! So I think one has to be sensitive to their stresses and needs for R&R as well.


  21. Tina Baxter says:

    My 9 year old dog is spoiled. How do I get her to listen to me to train her? I had her since she was 6weeks old.


    Minette Reply:

    Start with our hands off program


  22. Heidi Hunziker says:

    Yeah! Totally true! Very good advise. This goes right along with my philosophy on life that I have been studying for some years now.
    I get along with cats and dogs gsuccessfully as a result.
    Thank you for passing it on to dog owners??merry Christmas.??


  23. Steve says:

    Good read. I feel bad that I don’t explore my Border Collie’s full potential. I’ll try harder.


  24. Jean says:

    Thank you for this posting. It is so very sad how many people get the adorable puppy for their kid and then after the new wears off the poor little dog only barely gets common maintenance. All dogs need attention and they all love to learn things and the mental stimulation. Love your postings.


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