Brain Games for Dogs: How to Keep Your Dog Entertained Indoors
Keeping a dog entertained is of utmost importance to any dog owner. Not only is it nice to know that your dog is happy, it is also imperative for dog owners to do so that their dog stays obedient and well behaved – either in public or at home. It is only ever a dog that is bored that will turn into a destructive canine that ruins so many things around the house or goes searching in bins making a mess. Additionally, a bored dog is likely to ignore commands when out of the house.
Many owners, quite rightly, turn to the power of a daily walk to keep their dogs entertained. This is great and for the most part will really help work towards a dog keeping away from gnawing at furniture legs when at home or destroying a shoe with their teeth. This is because a walk will tire them out physically so they simply want to sleep or doze most of the day. However, what do you do if you have a very active dog that you can never seem to walk far enough to tire out completely? Or what do you do on days that you simply can’t get out of the house? Be it because there is a torrential storm brewing outside or something in your life is preventing you from leaving the front door. Well, the answer is to set them up with dog brain games indoors.
Brain training for dogs is a great idea as mentally stimulating them can be just as tiring as a five-mile run. Plus, if you are keeping them entertained during the brain game, it is a time that they definitely won’t be getting up to mischief elsewhere. So it is a great idea to have some games up your sleeves for the days that you can’t tire your dog out on a long walk or even on the days that your dog seems simply to have boundless amounts of energy.
Here is our list of the top dog brain games to play to provide mental stimulation for dogs. We’ve included some DIY brain games for dogs as well as ones that include ready made toys. All provide excellent mind games for dogs so that you never need to worry about leaving them in the house on their own again.
Hide and Seek With A Family Member
This is a great game to help with mental stimulation for dogs and it is fantastic as well at building a rapport with your dog. In fact, it’s a good game for both owners and dogs alike. It’s an easy game to do that requires no preparation so if you can see that your dog is starting to get restless, all you need to do is run to another part of your house or apartment and call for them. It doesn’t have to be difficult to find a spot, but your dog will simply enjoy coming to find you wherever you end up around the home. You will probably get a lot of licks to your face as a reward for being found. You may not enjoy that but at least you know your dog has had a good time!
This is one of the best DIY brain games for dogs that there is as it uses so much of their intelligence. You can play two ways. Either you can throw a ball into a safe space in your home and make them wait to go and retrieve it, or you can make them watch you place an object on the floor a distance from you which they can only retrieve when you tell them to. The trick here is the action of getting them to wait. By making them practice holding back, it really challenges them in ways they may otherwise not be used to – making it one of the best brain teasers for dogs out there. Try it just a few times a day and you will soon reap the rewards.
Stuffed Kong or Toy
While this may sound like resorting to giving dogs a treat as opposed to giving them what others would call mind games for dogs, it’s actually a really great way to get them to think. Kongs are designed to make food difficult to get out, with only tenacity and patience as a way for a dog to get to their treats inside. Kongs can be made very tricky for dogs to get into when stuffed with sticky foods that are safe for our canine friends to eat. You can always water down some of their kibble into a mush and let it dry a little inside if you are unsure about what foods are suitable. Kong and other reputable dog food brands, do make their own sticky liquid formulas that are perfect for keeping a dog licking in a Kong for ages without going anywhere near human belongings for entertainment. If you’re worried about over feeding them, simply put a small amount of their daily food into the Kong and nothing extra.
If you don’t want to go down the route of buying a Kong for your dog brain games, you can try hiding food instead. Again, the trick here is to make them wait whilst you hide food around the house. Only on your command can they go. What’s great is if you can hide food in a room where they can’t see you so that they really have to use their brains and their noses together to find all the titbits that you have left behind. If your dog is new to this game, it’s a good idea to ensure that you know how much and where you left food out – especially if it is perishable. This way, you won’t have the joys of finding moldy food at a later date, should your dog not have been able to find every morsel during this game. Again, if you’re worried about overfeeding your dog simply put out a small portion of their daily meals instead.
Changing Toys Between Hands
This is one of the quickest mind games for dogs out there that is great to use if you are after quite a sedate game with your pooch – perhaps if you have had a tiring day at work and you don’t want to take your dog out for a walk. All you need to do is put their favorite toy in one of your hands and put both your hands behind your back. Feign going to bring the hand with the toy our from behind your back and watch their faces when you open your hand and nothing is in there (because you have switched it into your other hand). You can keep doing this, alternating hands each time, or however you see fit to really provide some much needed mental stimulation for dogs that will keep destructive behavior at bay. If your dog doesn’t have a favorite toy and is more food led, you could put a treat in your hand instead. Again what’s good about this game is that you really start to build up a rapport and relationship with your dog.
There are lots of different dog puzzles out there that are like brain teasers for dogs where you don’t have to do any thinking at all. Simply pull out your chosen dog puzzle whenever you can see that your dog is getting bored, but you don’t have time to take them out for a walk or throw a ball around with them outside. There are great puzzles to buy out on the market at the moment with several different dog personalities in mind. If your dog is food led, many puzzles will allow you to insert food into them and the dog has to figure out a way to get the food out. Or some puzzles will hide their favorite toy and they have to use their brain to find where it is hidden.
Treat Dispenser Game
If you already have a food dispenser, more commonly used when feeding cats, it is possible to use this as one of the many DIY brain games for dogs that will keep them out of trouble when you are away from the house. You can set up a timer with a buzzer that alerts them to the fact that they have a treat coming out – learning this is a form of mental stimulation for dogs that will really use their brains. Furthermore, food dispensers can also be used for dogs that have the mental capacity to learn that hitting the button in a certain place will decant food for them. As ever if you’re worried about portion control simply allocate out some of the daily kibble instead of new treats.
Some of the best mental stimulation for dogs comes in the form of training by their owners. Being taught how to sit, come, lie down or roll over will all provide brain training for dogs where they have to think about what they are doing to get the rewards that are promised to them for each well-executed trick. For most dogs, this reward will be some for food treat, but treats can take the form of being given a much loved stuffed toy, a ball or simply some praise and cuddles from their owner – after all, more often than not, a dog’s owner is their best friend.
Mental Stimulation For Dogs – The Bottom Line
Keeping a dog mentally stimulated is just as important as keeping him physically active. Whilst a daily walk will not only keep your dog trim by burning off the calories and a great deal of energy too, it does also mentally stimulate them which will consequently keep them out of trouble at home. Bearing that in mind, do try to change up where you go on your walks with your dog – all the new sights and sounds and smells will really stretch their brain – whilst also getting a fantastic dose of physical exercise. Another trick here is to change the time of day that you take them for a walk as well – this too can change things up enough for them to keep their walks mentally stimulating.
However, keeping them stimulated at home is key to ensure that all your things remain looking as you wanted them to. It really only ever is a bored dog that will attack the furniture, shoes, children’s toys and any other items lying around on the floor. By doing just one of the games mentioned above with them for fifteen to thirty minutes a day at most, you will see that even the most badly behaved dog will be much better, almost immediately.
Plus, a wonderful side effect of all this, is that you improve your relationship with them too. They will love you even more for all the attention they are getting and think you are the most fun thing on the planet. In turn, this will help in so many other areas of their training – dogs who think their owners are fun are far more likely to listen to commands – especially a recall command. This makes life with a dog so much easier when they do as you ask and are reliably obedient.