You can – and should – teach old dogs new tricks, say cognitive biologists at the Messerli Research Institute in Vienna, where a brain training app is been developed to help aging dogs keep mentally active.
Apparently, owners tend to let older dogs off the hook when it comes to regular exercise and activities, which leads to increasing cognitive decline.
This is why a doggie equivalent of Sudoku has been created for lab use (the research space, not the dog breed): the dog interacts with a touchscreen game – by nose, not paws – in order to carry out simple tasks in exchange for a treat. Hopefully, we’ll see this in shops soon.
"The positive feeling created by solving a mental challenge is comparable to the feeling that older people have when they learn something new, doing something they enjoy. Regular brain training shakes not only us, but also dogs out of their apathy in old age, increasing motivation and engagement and thus maximising learning opportunities," says research project member Ludwig Huber.