What Brain Games Can I Play With My Dog?

People often focus on giving dogs the physical stimulation that they require. They take their dogs on walks to the local park or play in their backyards.

One thing that owners may not think of is that dogs require mental stimulation as much as they need physical stimulation. Getting your dog to use its brain to solve problems that it may come up with in its daily life is essential.

Many brain games specifically target mental stimulation for dogs. If you are wondering, ‘what brain games can I play with my dog?’, read on to find ten such games to try.

Why Do Dogs Need Brain Training?

Training is vital in setting your dog up for behavioral and mental success. Brain games are excellent for keeping your furry friend well-trained and mentally stimulated.

Brain training helps your dog’s brain to behave appropriately in various scenarios that require them to be mentally alert.

Through brain training, you are teaching your dog skills that it will never forget and use. Therefore, it is also an excellent way to bond with your canine.

Make sure you also give your dog adequate physical exercise. Take your dog for a walk to the park daily. You can use one of the best no-shock dog training collars to keep your dog safe while you go on walks.

What Brain Games Can I Play With My Dog?

Here are a few excellent brain games you can play with your dog. These games are easy, and your dog will enjoy playing them with you.

In the meantime, they will also provide the much-required mental stimulation to your dog. See which games you feel are best to play with your dog.

Treasure Hunt

Playing a treasure hunt with your dog gets your dog’s brain to work hard. This game also makes your dog use all of its senses.

You should start the game simply so that your dog doesn’t get discouraged at the beginning. Make it easy so your dog will succeed on the first attempt. It will encourage your dog to play the game further.

Ask your dog to sit and hide a treat or one of its favorite toys in a very obvious place. You can even let it see where you hide the toy so it will be easy to find.

Next, ask your dog to go and find the hidden item. Reward your dog well once it finds the hidden toy or treats.

Once your dog understands the game, you can make it more difficult each time. You can try hiding the toy in another room. You can also try hiding it without showing your dog the place. It makes the game more challenging for your dog, which is excellent for mental stimulation.

Hide And Seek

Create variation in the treasure hunt by making yourself the treasure. You need a minimum of two people to play the game. 

One person needs to hide while the other distracts the dog and indicates it to remain sitting.

Once the first person hides, the next one should cue the dog to search for the person in hiding. 

The great thing about this game is that you can play it indoors and outdoors. So, rain or shine, you can play this game with your dog.

Shell Game

The shell game is an enjoyable yet challenging one for dogs. Flip two opaque plastic cups upside down and place a treat under one of them.

Give your dog the cue to turn the cup and find the treat. Do this about eight to ten times. If your dog gets the wrong cup, show it the treat under the correct cup. However, remember not to give the treat to your dog.

You should give your dog the treat only if it identifies the correct cup under which it is hidden.

It is a game that involves serious thinking for dogs and therefore is challenging for them. You can make the game harder by placing the treat under one cup and switching the cups several times before asking your dog to find the correct cup.

The harder you make the game, the more your dog has to use his brain and think. It is an excellent mental stimulation activity for dogs.

Ring Stackers

This game is good for your dog’s eye-paw or eye-mouth coordination. Ring stackers are a challenging game that takes a while for your dog to learn. It’s a game that can keep you and your dog busy for hours.

The game requires a lot of patience and can take days or weeks to perfect. When playing this game, you must find wooden rings instead of plastic ones. Dogs tend to bite on the rings, so you should not buy plastic rings.

Also, ensure that the rings are appropriate for your dog’s size and mouth dexterity.

You can combine clicker training when you play this game. Click-and-treat your dog when it picks up a ring. Again, click-and-treat when it moves closer to the stick, and continue doing this each time your dog touches the ring to the stick.

You can make this game more challenging by putting the rings in another room so your dog has to run from one room to another while playing this game.

Hot And Cold

The hot and cold game is perfect for intelligent dogs who don’t get frustrated quickly. It is also ideal for clicker training because the game follows the shaping of new behavior.

The game is simple, and all you have to do is sit on the couch and say ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ and toss a treat each time you say it.

You have to start with something you want your dog to do, such as picking up your keys from the floor and bringing them to you.

Keep a bag of treats with you and each time your dog gets closer to the keys, say ‘hot’. Say’ cold’ if your dog moves away from the object you want. 

Once your dog reaches the goal and gets the object, say ‘hot’ and toss a treat. You can play this game while sitting on your couch, bed, chair, or simply anywhere.

The Name Game

To play this game, your dog should know how to put away toys when asked to. After that, you can teach your dog to put away toys by name.

Start by teaching your dog the name of a specific toy and asking it to get it for you. Specific breeds like the Border Collie are renowned for their vocabulary, while others may be less popular.

However, learning the names of a couple of toys won’t be a problem for even the most stubborn dogs. Reward your dog when it gets the name of a toy correct. You may have to repeat this about 20 to 30 times for your dog to remember the name of the toy.

Gradually teach your dog the names of a few other toys too. Remember to reward your dog each time it correctly gets the name of a toy.

Once your dog knows the names of a few toys, try mixing up the names and asking for the toys. It can be challenging for dogs, but it is an excellent mental stimulation activity.

New Trick

Teaching your dog a new trick boosts its creativity and is an excellent mental stimulation activity. It allows your dog to think independently and come up with creative ideas. Therefore, it is a popular game in clicker training.

The way you play is to click and treat for a new behavior offered and ignore one that is already offered. 

The way it goes is you can say ‘new trick,’ and your dog will sit. Click and treat and then repeat it. Repeat it a few times.

The game continues until your dog does a new trick each time, and you reward it. If your dog does a trick that was already done before, click and request a ‘new trick’ again. Don’t reward it for any trick it repeats.

The game can even go up to 30 minutes, depending on how well your dog grasps the new concept.

Toy Pickup

Toy pickup is a great game to play and makes cleaning up a fun task. Let your dog understand the game by saying ‘drop it to get your dog to drop a toy on command.

Your goal is to make your dog drop the toy in a particular location. After your dog has mastered this step, move on to the next. The next step is to get your dog to drop the toy in a box or basket.

Remember to give a treat to your dog after it completes each step of the game successfully. Ultimately, your goal should be to get your dog to understand putting a particular toy in a basket once it understands the meaning of ‘put it away.

Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is an excellent way to improve your dog’s eye and body coordination. In this game, your dog has to focus on the rope’s pace and target a particular spot on the ground and on jumping.

First, you can keep a stick on the ground and show your dog where to jump. It will also teach it how much space there is to work on the sides so that it can stay within the boundaries of the rope.

Next, you should teach your dog to jump on cue. Then, add the rope, cueing your dog each time it needs to jump as the rope comes down.

This game takes a long time and a lot of practice. However, it will burn loads of extra brain and body energy.

Red Light Green Light

This game is perfect for overly enthusiastic dogs that tend to get wound up during play. It teaches your dog to pay attention no matter what it is doing or how much fun it is having.

You can play this game anywhere, anytime. The game starts with teaching your dog the difference between stop or ‘red light’ and go or ‘green light.’ 

You must start by having your dog stay or sit by saying ‘green light’. Your dog should run around chasing a toy when playing this game. Make sure that your dog is focused and ready for your next command.

Then say ‘red light’, and your dog should sit or lie down. Repeat this sequence until your dog understands the difference between ‘red light’ and ‘green light’.

Final Thoughts

Playing brain games with your dog is an excellent way to provide mental stimulation for your dog. There are so many brain games that you can choose from that are suitable for all types of dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Brain Games Good For Dogs?

Brain games provide excellent mental stimulation for dogs. Mental exercise is essential for dogs as much as physical activity is.

How Much Mental Stimulation Does A Dog Need?

 A dog needs at least 20 minutes of mental stimulation daily and an hour of physical exercise such as a walk.