5 Brain Games Your Dog Is Better Than YOU at!
Just like physical games like fetch and tug of war, playing brain games with your dog is an essential part of raising a healthy and happy puppy! Brain games are a form of mental stimulation that are a great outlet for pent-up energy, can help teach your dog self-control, and reduce or eliminate many behavioral issues. Not to mention they are entertaining for you as well and can strengthen the bond between you and your pooch.
No matter if your dog is big, small, old, young high shedding or hypoallergenic they all love brain games! In this article, we cover five of the best brain games to teach your dog—but don’t be surprised when they turn out to be cleverer than you at these activities!
1. Hide and seek
Hide and seek is a great game for a rainy day and is one the whole family can play! Start by hiding somewhere in the house, where your dog can’t see you. Then, call your dog. When they find you, make sure to give them verbal praise and a nice treat!
If you have other family members, have them hide elsewhere in the house, and call your dog to them. Repeat for as long as your dog is maintaining interest. This is a great game to help work on your dog’s recall.
2. Treasure hunt
Treasure hunt is a great game to play either in your home or yard. You will set up by hiding “treasures” around the house or yard for your dog to sniff out and enjoy. These can either be toys or treats, depending on what motivates your dog. We like to use WellBites Beef & Turkey . Start with simpler hiding places, such as on a chair or rock. Once your dog has this down, progress to more difficult locations, such as under a rug, or even lightly buried in dirt or mulch. If your dog is struggling to find the “treasure,” help them out by using foods with a stronger smell, and remember to verbally praise them when they find the treat. Your dog’s sharp sense of smell will aid them in both hide and seek and treasure hunt!
3. Sand pit
Many dogs, especially certain breeds like terriers, love to dig, and will enjoy sand pit as a healthy outlet for this impulse. Start by finding a sand pit, such as a clam, and filling it with play sand. Bury treats or toys, cue your dog to “dig,” and watch them root through the sand for their reward. Always supervise this game closely, to make sure your dog doesn’t start eating the sand. You might be surprised at how efficiently your dog moves through the sand—with some practice, they’ll start finding their treats in less time than it takes you to bury them!
Humans often use the phrase “jump through hoops” figuratively, but many dogs will be able to one-up you by jumping through a literal hoop!
Start off by finding a hula hoop that’s big enough for your dog to fit through. Lay it on the ground and let your dog sniff and investigate it.
Then, you’ll hold the hoop upright, but rest the bottom on the ground. Encourage your dog to step through it by holding a treat on the other side of it. Use the cue “jump” or “hoop.” Give the treat when your dog walks through it, and give verbal praise. Practice at this level until your dog is comfortable walking through.
The next step is to raise the hoop off the ground, so your dog will have to jump to get through it. Go just a few inches at first, and gradually raise it higher and higher. Soon, your dog will be ready for their audition at the pet talent show!
5. Muffin tin madness
All you’ll need for this game is a muffin tin and some tennis balls! Place some treats in the muffin holes, and cover them up with the tennis balls, so your dog will have to sniff out the treats and move the balls to get their snack. As your dog gets the hang of this game, you can reduce the number of treats, but fill up the whole tray with balls, so they’ll have to work harder for their reward. For this game, it helps if your dog is more food-motivated than toy-motivated. If they think the balls are the reward, there’s no real challenge for them.
We doubt that you could easily find a tiny cube of cheese with only your nose. And unless you’re an Olympic high jumper, good luck leaping through a hoop held at your eye level! If you didn’t already know it, these five games will prove that your dog is just as clever as you are, and will make great use of their natural talents like smelling, digging and jumping. Have you tried any of these games with your pooch? Let us know by tagging @wellnesspetfood on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook