Thursday, October 5, 2017

Dog Longevity Survey: How Important Is Mental Stimulation for Longevity?

69.23% of survey participants checked mental stimulation as extremely important, and 30.77% as important for dog longevity. Nobody thought it was unimportant.

What say you?

For dogs, there is generally a minimal separation between physical activity and mental stimulation. Under ideal circumstances, these two things come hand in hand. Playing, running, sporting, hiking, chasing things ... all these things engage the both body and the mind. Moreover, physical activity is the best way to challenge the brain as well.

There are circumstances when physical activity needs to be restricted, such as post-surgery, post-injury, or when your dog is seriously ill.

In general, though, finding ways to keep your dog physically active is ideal.

That takes care of the body and the mind all in one.

Even when Jasmine was in such poor shape that all she could do was to lay around, laying around outdoors provided so much more mental stimulation than doing the same at home. There are smells and sounds, there is the air playing with the fur ... being outside was always Jasmine's preference no matter what.

When your dog absolutely has to stay put indoors or in their crate, there are games and puzzles they can engage with, there are tricks you can teach.

How much is the importance of mental stimulation simply about the will to live in the first place?

I think that will to live, in other words, having something to live for plays a significant role. I've seen people literally wither away and die after they lost the motivation to go on for one reason or another. Social interaction and mental stimulation have a lot to do with that.

In a way, the brain is like a muscle in a sense that it responds to challenges. With the absence of challenge, it too will atrophy.

Doing things and social interaction makes dogs happy.

Happiness goes a long way to extend lifespan. A dog who doesn't get to do anything is heading for depression. And depression can certainly shorten one's life whether it's a dog or a person.

Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
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At October 11, 2017 at 12:55 PM , Anonymous Cathy said...

I agree that mental stimulation helps with longevity. I know it does with people so why not dogs too.

At October 11, 2017 at 4:19 PM , Blogger Ruth Epstein said...

I think it is very important and although Layla does not play in the park for example I make sure we spend at least an hour a day there if not more to keep her out about, and mentally stimulated. I do the same with walks, long ones so that she is seeing things because at home she loves to sleep

At October 11, 2017 at 7:14 PM , Blogger Kamira G said...

Mental stimulation is very important. Not only for us but our pets as well. The brain is the most important organ we need to utilize. Even at max capacity we only use 10% of our brain. I'm not sure what the numbers are on dogs though. Exercising the mind and body are important for quality of life and longevity in my opinion.

At October 11, 2017 at 11:44 PM , Blogger Sandy Kubillus said...

The pet industry has developed such great toys since the last time I had a puppy over thirteen years ago! The toy looks like great fun.

At October 12, 2017 at 12:48 AM , Blogger Beth Patterson said...

I think that for dogs especially there is a big connection between mental stimulation and physical activity. We are figuring out a few things to help keep Theo engaged while he is recuperating from pain due to hip dysplasia.

At October 12, 2017 at 12:02 PM , Blogger Jana Rade said...

Yes, makes sense. and I've seen it in people enough times - once they stop doing things, they go down fast. Haven't seen it in my dogs because they all always did things to the very end.

At October 12, 2017 at 12:03 PM , Blogger Jana Rade said...

Yes, out and about, social interaction, sights, smells, sensations ... all important.

At October 12, 2017 at 12:04 PM , Blogger Jana Rade said...

I think the 10% brain usage has been debunked (meaning we're using the whole brain just not all at the same time every time, such as we walk one leg at the time). But with brain - if you don't use it, you'll lose it.

At October 12, 2017 at 12:05 PM , Blogger Jana Rade said...

Yes, many great toys; none of them so far much challenge for Cookie, though. Recently saw one which might be, so interesting to check into. Though unless recovering from something, Cookie gets plenty of stimulation outside so doesn't need it at home.

At October 12, 2017 at 12:06 PM , Blogger Jana Rade said...

Yeah, keeping them busy and stimulated with restrictions to physical activity is challenging. We were using puzzle toys (get boring quickly), hiding treats, teaching tricks ... just being outside and taking in all the sounds and smells is stimulating.

At October 25, 2017 at 6:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. I think that 19% figure was plucked out of the air.

At October 25, 2017 at 6:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry I couldn't change to the 10% which is what I meant.


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