Secretly hoping your stationary senior dog is happy to forgo her walks and spend the majority of her days basking in the sunshine from the comfort of her memory foam dog bed? Not so fast. Physically she may be slowing down and quite content hanging in the sun for hours on end, but mentally she still needs to keep her cognitive capabilities in tip top shape to help reduce brain deterioration. Similar to us as we age — striving to keep our mental faculties running on all cylinders — did you know that it’s imperative that we make sure our senior dogs are exposed to constant mental stimulation for optimal brain health too?!
But what’s this about having to share my iPad you ask? Cognitive biologists from Vetmeduni Vienna have been testing out cognitive training methods with older labs using interactive touchscreen games. The scientists are finding that simple mental tasks on the devices, mixed with a reward system, are actually helping to keep the dogs’ brain health from declining. You guessed it, touchscreen brain teaser games like “dog Sudoku” are getting put to the test and are actually showing promising results.
Obviously there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to the dogs figuring out how to use the touchscreens, but the scientists are finding that the labs genuinely enjoy the feedback loop of solving a mental challenge and then receiving a reward. And we all know when there’s a reward involved, the dogs inherently repeat said behavior, therefore motivating them to keep playing.
The researchers are hoping that their findings will inspire software developers to create more dog friendly games, as well as raise awareness pertaining to the importance of utilizing brain fitness tools if you have a senior dog. I guess old dogs really can and do want to learn new tricks after all! We love our senior dogs, so it only makes sense that we make sure they are healthy in both their minds and their bodies too.
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