Keeping your dog mentally stimulated is just as important as keeping him physically fit. These 10 brain games are easy to learn and fun for all.
Your dog may love chasing after a not-so-fuzzy-anymore tennis ball or showing his strength in a game of tug-a-war, but his body isn't the only thing that needs daily exercise.
Dogs are intelligent animals that are just as much brain as they are brawn. A bored dog is a destructive dog, but there are countless games you can play with your pooch to keep his frontal lobe fired up.
Take time out of your day to teach your dog these fun and mentally stimulating games.
Hide and Seek
You spent hours playing this as a kid, and now it's time to pass the baton on to your dog.
To play, tell your dog to stay while you go and hide. When you're ready, yell out, "Ready or not here you come!" Or maybe a simple, "Come, Fido!" will work better.
Your dog should use his ears and nose to seek you out.
Dogs rely on their noses more than any other sense, and their powerful sniffers make the treasure hunt game fun for both you and your dog.
Find something extra smelly that your dog loves, like a Kong full of peanut butter or his favorite old toy. Show him your treasure, and then tell him to sit and stay while you go and hide it.
Say, "Find it, Fido!" and watch as he follows his sniffer to hidden treasure.
The Cup Game
You've probably seen this game played in movies by rough-handed hustlers, but here's the doggy version.
Line up three old cups on the floor in front of your dog. Take a smelly treat and put it under one cup. Let your dog watch as you move the cups around, and give him the treat when he picks the right cup.
Red Light Green Light
Red light green light is a great game for dogs that get a little too excited during playtime and need to learn impulse control.
To play with your dog, replace "green light" with "come" and "red light" with "stay."
The Name Game
Your dog already recognizes words like "ball," "treat," and "do you wanna go on a walk." To play the name game, all you have to do is teach him a few more.
The bigger his vocabulary, the more fun the game is. Tell him the name of an object (or person) and watch in delight as he seeks it out.
52-Toy Pick Up
Clean up, clean up, everybody do their share! Including the dog!
Teach your dog to pick up things like his toys or your dirty laundry. Once he picks up an object, teach him to deposit it in a designated location. "Retrieve" and "drop it" will be your best friends with this simple game.
The new trick game is kind of like dealer's choice. Instead of telling your dog to roll over, say, "new trick!"
He should sit, lay down, rollover, or do whatever else he thinks will impress you enough to make that treat go from your hand to his mouth. The more you play, the more challenging the game is. Don't let him repeat tricks!
Your dog will know there's something tasty hidden within his new toy, but he'll have to use his noggin to get it out.
The Muffin Tin Game
This beginner brain game can be set up using things you have lying around the house.
Dig out an old muffin tin and place some smelly treats in a few of the holes. Cover all of the holes with balls or some other kind of toy, and let him figure out how to remove the toys to get to the good stuff.
Doggy puzzle games are effective ways to stimulate a canine genius's mind. Trixie Dog Toys is a company that makes puzzles that require dogs to flip lids, turn knobs, open drawers, and lift up cones to uncover hidden treats.
Both you and your dog will have a blast playing these simple mind games. You'll battle boredom, improve his confidence, and reinforce your already strong bond.
The Nina Ottosson dog puzzle teaches problem-solving by using your dog's food and treats. It is a level three mental stimulating game, so keep this game in mind if your dog needs some mental exercise past an intermediate level. This game teaches your dog how to get the toy to dispense his treats.
Remember to take it slow and make sure your dog understands the rules. No one likes a cheater!
This post was originally published on May 25, 2016.
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