Build Your Dog or Cat’s Mind Power

April 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Success Insights

catpaintingIt may be hard to believe, but you can a change the actual physical aspects of your dog or cat’s brain — making them more intelligent, and giving their personality added resistance to stress.

These startling claims date back to the 1940’s when Canadian psychologist Donald O. Hebb took home a few lab rats and gave them to his children to keep as pets. The children played with these animals and let them run around and explore much of Hebb’s family home. The environments rats were free to explore were very rich and varied. When the animals were later tested for their learning ability, they proved to be much smarter than littermates raised in cages. 

Shortly later Hebb’s research associates repeated his experiments using dogs. They found that dogs raised in the more complex home environment not only learned faster, but seemed to be less fearful and considerably less stressed in lab testing situations.

Over the years researchers have proven that these behavioral changes are the result of actual changes in the physiology of the animal’s brains. The brains of animals that have lived in changing and complex environments actually become larger and more complex, just like the brains of humans.

The important aspects of the animal’s experience which cause these positive changes in their brains involves exposure to a wide variety of interesting places and things that novel, and exciting experiences. Recent research by psychologist Norton W. Milgram and his associates at the University of Toronto have shown that the benefits of such experiences are not restricted to growing puppies. Adults and even elderly animals, also benefit from having richer environments and even seem more resistant to the usual decline in mental efficiency seen in older dogs.

For those of us who want to give our pet dog  or cat the advantage of a more efficient brain, the trick is simply to keep their mind active, exposing them to new experiences, giving them new things to learn and puzzles to work out.

Some different experiences can come out of just taking the dog to new places and on different routes on daily walks, or including your dog or cat on day trips, or when out doing various chores.

Remember, you are not only building your relationship with your beloved pet, but actually building it a better brain.

Posted by a committed dog (and cat) lover