Playing games with your dog is great fun for them and you and it’s perfect for getting some exercise and fresh air. But chasing balls and sticks or playing tug-of-war doesn’t require any thinking from your pup and they offer nothing in the way of mental stimulation, just a lot of running back and forth.
Dogs are clever creatures and rarely do we give them enough credit for their intelligence. In fact, if you ask most dog owners, they’d say their beloved pet is a bit dim, but this really isn’t the case. Just try some brain training games, as outlined below, and you’ll see how switched on your dog is.
Brain training games aren’t just about finding out if Einstein has come back in canine form. They help with obedience, combat boredom and tire out energetic dogs. Playing these games together helps strengthen your bond as you work as a team, and most of them are simply dog versions of games you played as a kid which all exercise and train the brain as much as the body.
Here are our top five favourite games for brain training:
Get your dog to use his supremely powerful nose. Begin with hiding a favourite treat or toy to set him up for success. Once he gets the gist of the game you can ramp up the difficulty level.
Hide and seek
This is a great game for outdoor play, but it does require two people, one to distract the dog and give the release command whilst the other one hides
The name game
Teach your dog to put his toys away by name. It takes a lot of repetition to hammer home the name so start with just two toys and once he’s mastered those you can increase the number exponentially
The cup game
Dogs love this because it’s so simple yet requires a lot of concentration and focus. Start with two cups and ask your dog to find the treat. Once this has been mastered you can begin to move the cups around. This will make him use his eyes, nose and thinking skills
Professor Akira Flashcards
Using special made-for-dogs flashcards is a great way to sit quietly with your dog and really focus his brain. Just 10 minutes a day will be enough mental stimulation to get his grey matter going, and you’ll be surprised at just how much your dog can learn over time.