There’s been quite a lot of research into animal brain development (Hebb, Cunningham to name a few). It seems that the more stimulation (social and environmental) the bigger the benefits: not only in terms of logical and analytical thinking, but also in the way animals react to new situations and in reduction of fear and aggression.
So, to improve Brian’s brain I use toys that vary in size, shape, texture, the level and kind of noise they make, the smell of them and the environment where they are normally found. So, ropes, balls, plastic noise makers, soft toys, pieces of stretchy fabric with knots and/or rattles, cardboard boxes with various treasures hidden in them…the list is endless. I supervise his play, I use things that are safe (or rather relatively safe, he’s a puppy -that’s why I watch him). The best toys can easily be made, thy don’t have to be expensive (and nothing will buy the quality time – playing TOGETHER). I definitely prefer to make a toy than buy something cheap that I’m suspicious of. Our toys are often messy, but that’s the beauty of having a young dog.
The area where much more progress needs to be made is still people. Brian does not like people, men more than women, children more than anyone else. He freaks out when someone approaches unexpectedly. He can’t be off the lead with noisy kids around (teenagers rather than toddlers). There’s lots of work to be done to make him calm around people in every situation. I’m actually surprised he likes me…as he seems to be suspicious of anyone and everyone.
But I promise, he’ll be fine 🙂