Have you ever thought about brain games for dogs? Have you considered spending time exercising your pup’s mind along with his body?
Think about it this way – how much time does your dog spend actively using his brain? By this we mean doing something more engaging than snuggled in beside you on the couch or laying in that sunny patch on the floor? There are several very important reasons why it’s a good idea to work your dog’s body with some mental stimulation.
The Importance of Mental Stimulation for Dogs
As a dog owner, you know that exercise is critical for good health. Whether you’re hiking in the woods every day, walking around the neighbourhood, or running around playing fetch in the field, that activity is important for overall health.
But what about mental stimulation? Can your dog get exercise when he’s not running around the yard or climbing over fallen trees in the forest? You’d better believe it.
And that exercise is just as important!
There are plenty of reasons to give your dog’s brain a good workout:
- Reduces stress
- Helps relieve boredom
- Improves mental stamina
- Reduces problem behaviors
- Keeps depression at bay
- Deepens your bond
You see, actively engaging your pup’s mind is essential for both short term and long term health! So, it’s time to play!!
Brain Games for Dogs
There are tons of different brain games for dogs that you can play to provide that mental stimulation he craves. Some require a few props (don’t worry, you probably already have them), while some just require your time and effort.
1. Tricks for Treats
One of the simplest ways to exercise your dog’s brain is by teaching him a new trick or two. Each week, pick a trick – maybe it’s shake a paw, maybe it’s open the fridge, maybe it’s clean the bathroom (whoa, good job!). It doesn’t really matter what the trick is, it’s the mental workout your dog gets learning the trick. If your dog works well with just positive encouragement, amazing, but if treats are needed that’s cool too. Take some time out every day and work on the new trick until he’s mastered it, then move on to a new one.
2. Hide and Seek
If your dog is pretty good at sit and stay, this one can be fun and takes literally nothing more than a spot to hide. Get your dog to sit and stay, then head to somewhere in the house and stay there, calling your pup to find you where you’re ready. Some dogs will head right to their owner’s hiding spot. Others will use their nose to get there. Some may stray and get distracted, but work on it – this can be a great game to play to tire a pup out who may be craving that attention.
3. Find and Fetch
This is another play on hide and seek, only you’re hiding a toy and getting them to find it. Make sure your pup knows the toy, and really likes it. Then, have him sit and stay while you go hide the toy. Then, when you’re ready, tell them to “find it” – saying the name of the toy you’ve hidden. You can make it as easy or as difficult as you like – but just make sure it’s hidden within your pup’s ability to find or they’ll give up. As an alternative, use treats as the “find it” for that added incentive (just remember where you’ve hidden them!).
4. At Home Agility
Sure, you may choose to head to a professional agility course for this one (and that’s awesome!), or you can find objects at home that work and build your own course at home. Pick items your pet can go over, under, through, or on. Set it up so that he follow the cues and works his way through the different obstacles. This can take a lot (or a little, depending on the dog) of practice, and you might find it tires him out quicker than anything else.
5. Walking Workout
Another easy way to give your dog a mental and physical workout is to turn that regular daily walk into something more mentally stimulating. Just turn up the engagement level. At certain intervals, have your dog sit and wait. Every so often, find a stick and ask you dog to pick it up, or drop it. Mid walk, do some of those tricks you taught him earlier in the week. Whatever you do to encourage active participation in more than just walking and sniffing is a good way to work the brain.
When it come to brain games for dogs, there are so many different ways that you can engage your pet’s brain along with his body. Whether you buy food bowls meats to test their thinking, puzzles that trigger their mental agility, or you opt for one of the games above, anything goes. Have fun, and give your dog something to tell his friends about the next time you’re at the dog park!
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