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5 Brain Games To Help Stimulate Your Dog's Mind

Monday June 1st 2015

When it comes to playing games with our dogs, most people will simply throw a ball for them to fetch, or hold onto a toy for them to play tug of war with. These games certainly provide our dogs with enjoyment and allow them to release their energy, but they do very little in terms of stimulating their minds. Mentally challenging your dog will not only help beat any boredom as they are exposed to new things, but it can also help boost their confidence and help establish an even greater bond between you and your dog.

5 Brain Games To Help Stimulate Your Dog's Mind

It isn't quite as easy as giving them a Sudoku puzzle (we've tried, and it got very messy!) but there are lots of activities you can do with your dog that will really challenge them. Here are 5 activities for you and your dog to try:

1. The Muffin Tray

This is a great game to start with, as it's relatively simple. Unfortunately for your dog there aren't any real muffins involved in this game, but there will be some treats! Place some kibble or some treats in certain pockets of the muffin tin, and place some balls or other items over the top of each pocket. Your dog will have to work out how to move the balls or items to gain access to the treat! As mentioned above, this is a fantastic game for younger dogs or beginners.

2. Use A Treat Ball

Treat balls are excellent at making your dog work for their food – both physically and mentally. The idea of a treat ball is that it only dispenses food when it is positioned in a certain way. Fill a treat ball with kibble or treats and watch your dog roll the ball around and work out how to release the food! Treat balls can be bought in most pet shops, but you can always fill up a lidless plastic bottle as a cheap alternative, as this will also require your dog to do some problem solving to earn their dinner.

3. Hide And Seek

Once your dog has mastered the "Stay!" command, try going out of sight and into another room before telling them to "Come!" or "Here!". You should start by keeping the proximity close, and progressively increase the distance as your dog becomes more disciplined at the game! Make sure you only say "Come!" or "Here!" the once, rather than repeatedly saying it or shouting their name - you need to give them a chance to think hard and work out what you're asking of them by that one command. When your dog comes to you, reward them with a treat! This game can be played outdoors too, although passers-by may think you're a little odd hiding behind a tree!

4. Treasure Hunt

Smell is a dog's most powerful sense, so use it to stimulate their brains with this game! Place some cardboard boxes around a room, and place treats is just a couple of them. Associate the game with a word such as "Find!" or "Search!" and watch them run from box to box working out where the treats are. You can increase the difficulty of this game by removing the boxes and placing the treats in different objects around the room instead - such as behind a laundry basket that has disguising smells. Maybe not behind your very expensive vase though!

5. Name Your Dog's Toys

Increasing your dog's vocabulary is a brilliant way to challenge them mentally. Start with two of your dog's favourite toys, and teach them to fetch each one by giving them a specific name. For example, you might say "Fetch rope!" or "Fetch blue toy!" Use lots of praise or treats when they pick the correct toy. Once they've mastered their two favourite toys, start naming even more. This game can require a lot of patience but, as with all tricks, it is incredibly satisfying when they work it out.

This article was written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc, an insurance company who offers pet insurance.