Just like humans, in order for dogs to stay completely happy and healthy they need to receive daily doses of mental stimulation.  For some dogs, going for a walk and having quality play time is enough to satisfy this need.  However, for other dogs, especially those with above average intelligence, such as the Shiba Inu, German Shepherd, or Beagle, pet owners must provide extra activities to keep their dogs from becoming bored and finding their own entertainment, such as destroying the yard.  Listed below are a few recommendations for safe, fun, and mentally stimulating toys and treats. 
Frozen KONG
A KONG, which is a hollowed-out piece of durable rubber that resembles a beehive, is a specially made toy for the active dog that easily becomes bored.  The owner simply fills the KONG with a savory treat, such as peanut butter, cheese, or any other high-value reward, and the dog will spend hours trying to get every last morsel.  For the adept dog that is capable of cleaning out a KONG in a matter of minutes, owners can instead fill the toy and place it in the freezer for a few hours, which increases the amount of time the dog stays busy. 
Mind Games
A number of fun games exist that owner and dog can play together to stave off boredom.  One is the muffin tin game, where a treat is placed in one or two wells of a muffin tin, and then items such as tennis balls or rolled up socks are placed in each well.  The dog must figure out which well has the treat by moving the objects.  Another fun game that takes little work from the owner and can be played from the comfort of the couch is “hot-cold.”  Start the game by gathering a few treats, and thinking of an objective, such as your dog walking to the front door.  Without telling your dog what to do, toss him a treat and yell “hot!” every time he or she takes a step in the right direction.  Your dog will then try to replicate the actions that resulted in receiving a treat, eventually figuring out the intended objective. 
Scent Tracking
An especially fun and mentally stimulating game for any type of hound is “hide and go treat.”  Ask your dog to stay in another room while you hide treats around the house.  Don’t forget difficult spots such as under a throw pillow, behind a chair, or inside a shoe!  For really goof sniffers, try placing a treat inside a KONG, then hiding the KONG inside the toy bin.  Dogs will enjoy using their noses to uncover their favorite treats, and can stay busy searching the house to make sure no treat was left unfound! 
Automated Treat Dispenser
Treat dispensers that administer treats to your dog at random intervals throughout the day can also keep your dog from becoming bored. By not knowing when – or why – a treat will be delivered, dogs tend to stay near the dispenser, and away from trouble. Some treat dispensers are even wifi and web cam enabled allowing pet owners to dispense the treats and watch the dogs reaction!
Have you found great ways to keep your pup busy while you are out of the house, let us know!