Even us humans can get bored when we don’t have enough mental stimulation, so imagine how your dog must feel spending most of their days at home.
Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise for your dog, and you’ll notice instantly when they’re not getting enough because their behavior will usually be destructive.
Brain games have become a huge phenomenon that boosts cognitive function, improves memory, and makes for an overall happy mind.
Once reserved just for humans, there are now some great brain games available for dogs that offer the same benefits. If you want to try out brain games with your dog at home, we’ve got some DIY ideas that can help you do it.
#10: Hide and Seek
Dogs are natural hunters and any chance they can use to exercise their inborn ability to do is going to be good for them.
You can play a game of hunt and seek with your dog that works just like it did when you’re a kid, and they’ll be a lot better for it.
Go out into the yard with your pooch and have them sit and stay while you go hide somewhere. When you’re ready, call out their name and let them use their nose and instinct to find you.
#9: Cup Game
Also referred to as the shell game, this is one that will entertain anyone, dogs and humans alike.
The premise of the game is that you get three clear, identical cups, and underneath one you place a dog treat so they can see where it is.
With some tricky hand movements, you change the order of the cups around to try and confuse your pet and see if they can correctly identify which one has the treat underneath.
#8: Jump Rope
This one is a little tricky and requires lots of training, but it’s something that can stimulate both body and mind for your dog.
Start by teaching them to jump up and down on a particular spot on the floor, usually made easier with the help of treats. Once they’ve mastered the jumping, you can add in a jump rope and show them how to jump over that instead.
Be prepared to spend a few weeks on this one, but the results will amaze you and the rest of the neighborhood.
#7: Ring Stacker
Ring stackers are traditionally a kids toy that teaches them hand-eye coordination as well as improves their cognitive skills, and it does the same thing for your pet.
Purchase a wooden ring stacker and train your dog on the correct order to stack them onto the stick.
This takes practice and patience for both of you but it can work out a part of your dog’s brain that they rarely get to use, so it’s going to be amazing for their mental stimulation.
#6: Treasure Hunt
Everybody loves a treasure hunt, and who better to enjoy one than a dog?
With their natural born instinct for hunting and a love for digging things up in the yard, this combines both in a fun brain game they’ll love.
Start with just one thing and have your dog sit and stay as you hide it, first showing them where you put it.
As they learn the game, you can add a few more items and then let them enjoy working their way around the house or yard collecting them all.
#5: Toy Pickup
This is a great way to entertain your dog but also get your house clean, once they learn to master the commands.
Teach them basic commands like “retrieve” and “drop it” and have them collect their toys from around the house.
If you ever need help cleaning up, this is a handy game to have at your disposal and a way to provide both mental and physical stimulation for your pet.
#4: Treat Toy
Rather than giving your dog a boring old treat and letting that be that, there are now treat toys that make it more of a challenge for them.
Ball treat toys have small spaces where treats can be placed and they provide a mental challenge for your dog as they have to work to get them out.
These balls can provide hours of entertainment for a dog and with the reward of a treat at the end, they’ll never get sick of them.
#3: Cupcake Tin Game
If you have an old cupcake tin or muffin tin laying around, you can make your own dog puzzle by placing some treats in just a few of the holes.
Put some balls or other objects on top and let your dog figure out which ones have the tasty treats underneath.
They’ll spend a lot of time on this and it’ll give their brains a good workout.
#2: Red Light/Green Light
Although it might not sound like much, playing this game with your dog helps to work on the brain’s control center and is great for exercising their body and mind.
Stand with your dog in the yard or the park, and tell them either “come” or “stay” to replace “green light” and “red light”. T
hey’ll enjoy being challenged and kept on their toes, and it helps to wear them out as well.
#1: Puzzle Game
Puzzle games are another fun way that you can engage your dog mentally, and these days there are plenty of dog-friendly puzzles on the market.
These devices come in all shapes and sizes, with the main goal being that your dog has to uncover the treats inside.
There are flaps, buttons, sliding mechanisms, and all manner of things that will get your dog’s mind working and more active than ever.