Mental stimulation is important for both you and our pets to keep our brains healthy! Use of cognitive enrichment will help reduce stress, frustration and boredom which may lead to unwanted or negative behaviour. Dogs of any age or fitness can benefit from enrichment which makes them happier by making them think, giving them a job or challenge which incorporates them to use multiple senses at once. Most important - You can teach old dogs new tricks!
Mental stimulation can include a variety of different methods which can range in cost. Some simple and cost effective methods include adding new walks and allowing them to sniff plenty of new and interesting smells. Spreading treats or a proportion of food in a room if your pet is on cage rest or room confinement for "hide and seek". You could do this outside too by throwing biscuits onto the lawn and let them sniff them out! If you have a cardboard box you can place treats in there and tape it shut (always supervise incase they eat the box). Snuffle mats can be good for hiding treats indoors. Chews and things to lick stimulate your pet too as long as they are safe and you are supervising eg you can make your own ice pops! You can use puzzle or treat based toys or feeders. Lickey mats, ice cube trays or kongs filled with soft cheese, dog friendly peanut butter or anything you desire depending on their weight management.
Some dogs join scent training where they put their nose to the ultimate test! If you have a sighthound you can use a flirt pole to tease them and get them to chase it. With a lab you may find they will enjoy retrieving; however, in some circumstances I would discourage repetitive fetching as it may result in joint related wear and tear.
Training with your pet builds their trust and takes a lot of concentration. Social interactions with people and other dogs too is key. Other things like visual stimulation by giving them access to windows, outdoors or even the tv!
There are loads of possible ways to enrich your pet to meet their needs which will be individual to each animal. If you are in doubt contact me or there is some great ideas online.