Five Brain Stimulating Games For Dogs To Play

September 10, 2020 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Dogs

Dog Games

Just like humans, dogs need to exercise their brains as well as their bodies in order to live their healthiest lives.

You might be thinking, “but I can’t give my dog a sheet of calculus problems—how else can I stimulate his brain?”
Look no further than this article!
We’ll teach you five of the best brain games to play with your dog, how to train them to play, and troubleshoot common stumbling blocks. They require no special equipment or knowledge—just some common household items and a willingness to try something new!
Sound like a good time? Read on to learn more!

1.Hide and seek

You probably played hide and seek with your friends as a child, but did you know you can play with your dog too?

This game can be played indoors or outdoors. Start off by hiding from your dog, and then have them seek you out. It can help to have another family member on board to distract your dog while you hide.

If your dog is struggling to find you, try calling for them or hiding with a smelly treat to help them out. If your dog needs to work on his recall, this is a great game to help practice that skill.

On the other hand, if your dog has figured out the game quickly, get creative with your hiding places to give them more of a challenge!

Ready or not, here they come!

2.The Name Game

We’re not talking about calling your dog’s name and getting them to come to you.

Their toys may already have names you’ve given them, or you may want to keep the names self-explanatory, such as naming the stuffed rabbit Bunny. If you do want to get more creative with naming, you can use All Things Dogs’ list as inspiration!

It helps if your dog already has a grasp of the names. Once they have this down, you’ll cue them “find Bunny!” Their job will be to search for the rabbit toy. Keep it simple to start, by using one toy in an otherwise empty space.

As your dog gets more advanced, they’ll be able to bring you their whole collection on command, and search through a pile of toys to find the one you asked for!

3.Carnival cups

All you’ll need for this game are three cups from your kitchen and a handful of treats!

Place the cups upside down on the floor in front of your dog. Show your dog a treat, and then quickly slip the treat under one of the cups. Shuffle the cups around, keeping the treat hidden. Cue your dog with the words “find it” and watch them try to pick the cup with the treat!

When they get it right, praise verbally and reward them with the treat they found.

This game tests your dog’s object permanence. How quickly can they pick the right cup? Do they have to sniff at each one first? If you’re the competitive type, set a timer and see if they can accomplish the task in record time!

4.Treat puzzles

These puzzles can take a number of forms, which we will describe. The key for all of them is that your dog has to work for their dinner!

One of the simpler options is a stuffed Kong toy. You can fill this with peanut butter, yogurt, cheese, kibble, or any other tasty treat. The point is that the food isn’t handed over on a silver platter—your dog has to figure out how to get to it.

There are also trickier puzzles on the market, that require your dog to press buttons or flip the whole apparatus over in order to get to the treat.

These are a great way to occupy your dog while you are busy or out of the house, and can help stave off feelings of separation anxiety.

5.Treasure hunt

This is another indoor/outdoor game, and can be played in a large or small area.

Ask your dog to sit and stay, while you hide a few treats around the room or yard. Once hidden, give your dog the commend “hunt!” or “find it!” and watch them follow their nose to the “treasure.”

Start with easier hiding spots, such as on a rock or chair, and then progress to more challenging ones once your dog gets the hang of the game. If you’re playing in the garden, you can even bury some treats in the dirt or a clam of sand for your dog to dig up!


These five games are great ways to keep your dog entertained, out of trouble, and mentally stimulated!

Do you play any of these games with your dog? Which one do they like best? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: John Woods
John Woods is a graduate in animal welfare and behavior, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.


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