Whether it’s simply too hot or cold outside for a full walk, or your dog is recovering from an illness it’s important to keep those wonderful agile brains active and healthy. Dog brain games are a great way to occupy your dog, give them a challenge, have a good bonding moment and keep them mentally healthy. When you play brain games keep it to short little stints for maximum enjoyment, if you play for too long your dog will lose interest quickly.
We have selected 5 dog brain games for you to try focussing on, using the dog’s primary sense; smell. According to science their sense of smell is 10,000 times, if not an awful lot more, better then our own.
1. Muffin Tin
This is a great game for beginners and pups. You will need plenty of (tennis)balls. Get a muffin tray and hide some small treats in each section, then cover each section with balls. Let your dog have a sniff around to find the treats!
2. Cup game
Line up 4 cups or plant pots. Whilst your dog is watching put a smelly treat under one of them and start shuffling the cups around. Then release your dog to select the right cup. If you wish to also teach self-control, hand him/her the treat once they’ve indicated with their nose the right cup, instead of them grabbing it themselves.
3. Hide and seek!
You will need 2 people for this and some treats in your pocket or at hand for when you are found. Put your dog or dogs in another area of the house with the other person (so they can release them once you have hidden yourself either in the house or in the garden)… and let them find you using their nose. If they don’t get it to begin with why not make little sounds. And don’t forget as soon as you have been found award by giving a little treat!
To make this harder allow yourself extra hiding time by leaving a “scent” trail to put them off, for example, going around the whole house or garden before getting to your hiding spot, and/or leaving items of clothing like shoes in hidden places.
4. Treasure Hunt
Because they are such good sniffers, hide little treats all over the house for them to find, starting with just the one room initially. Once your dogs get the idea or are finding the treats too quickly expand the game to include other rooms or the outside space.
5. Veg Bobbing
You will need some veg or fruit that your dog likes; blueberries, diced squash, carrot or bits of watermelon and a clean bucket or tub of some sort to fill with water. Show your dog you are chucking in the “treats” for them to find under water. To increase difficulty with another session do a deeper bowl and/or don’t show the bits being chucked in.