Top 8 Diy Dog Brain Games That Stimulate Your Dog Mentally

Last Updated on July, 2024

Dogs indeed need a lot of physical exercises, which you need to give them by taking them for walks. But, in the meantime, you also need to ensure that your dog gets adequate mental stimulation.

Did you know that your dog will get more tired after doing a 10-minute mental stimulation activity than after going for a one-hour walk?

Mental stimulation is important; a great way to do it is by playing games with your dog. You can rotate games as your dog gets bored playing the same game repeatedly. Using a few treats in these games will satisfy your dog’s natural need for sniffing.

Let’s look at a few DIY dog brain games that you can play with your dog using things you can find in your home. 

Quick Summary

The Diy Dog Brain Games are Muffin Tin Game, Foraging Box, Toilet Paper Tube Game, Snuffle Mat, Treats In A Bottle Game, Paper Plates Game, Frozen Treats & Shell Game.

Playing mental-stimulating games can be more tiring for a dog than a physical activity.

There are other ways to mentally stimulate dogs, such as taking them for walks or introducing them to new people.

Signs That Indicate a Dog is Bored

A Bored Dog

How do you know that your dog is bored? Here are a few signs indicating it’s time to start playing mental-stimulating games with your furry friend.

When your dog is bored, it will:

  • Show an attention-seeking behavior
  • Become restless
  • Show destructive behavior, including chewing shoes or furniture
  • Bark excessively
  • Jump
  • Dig up the yard
  • Sneak into the trash

DIY Dog Brain Games

If your dog shows any of the above signs and you realize it’s bored, then it’s time to use your creativity. 

Here, I have made a list of simple DIY dog brain games you can play with your dog using things you can find in your house.

1. Muffin Tin Game

Muffin Tin Game

Things you need:

  • Muffin tin
  • A few balls
  • A few treats

How to play:

All you need for this is easy-to-find things from your kitchen and store room. Put a few dog treats in each cup in the muffin tin. Cover a few muffin cups with balls.

Keep a few cups without covering to keep your dog interested in the game. Your dog will see the treats in the open cups and be eager to move on to see what’s inside the cups that are covered with balls..

In the next session, try covering more cups now that your dog knows what to expect from the game.

2. Foraging Box

foraging box for dogs

Things you need:

  • A cardboard box 
  • Your dog’s favorite toys
  • Balls
  • Random things in which you can hide treats

How to play:

This game is also called the destruction box, enrichment box, or busy box. Use an old cardboard box like the ones you get from Amazon or an old cereal box. 

Fill this box with your dog’s favorite toys, balls, and some random things in which you can hide treats. Next, include a few treats inside the box and close it. Then, give the box to your dog to forage through.

Your dog will get excited once it finds a few treats and will continue foraging through the box to find more.

3. Toilet Paper Tube

Toilet Paper Tube for dogs

Things you need:

  • An empty toilet paper tube
  • A few treats

How to play:

Next time you finish your toilet paper, don’t throw away the empty tube. This DIY dog brain game is simple to try when your dog gets bored lying around the house on a rainy day.

Stuff an empty toilet paper tube with a few dog treats. Next, fold or crinkle down the ends and let your dog play with them.

Some dogs might rip it open, and some might try to open the edges to find what’s inside. 

4. Snuffle Mat

Snuffle Mat for dogs

Things you need:

  • A rubber mat
  • Fleece blankets

How to play:

This is a great game to satisfy your dog’s sniffing needs, and all you need are a few things you probably have with you. 

Cut the fleece blankets into strips that are 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Attach these strips to the rubber mat by tying them with a double knot. 

Hide a few dog treats inside the fleece, behind the folds. You can even hide some treats a bit deeper, so your dog has to forage through to get them.

5. Treats In A Bottle Game

Treats in a Bottle Game

Things you need:

  • An empty bottle
  • A few treats
  • A drill or knife

How to play:

This is an interesting and exciting DIY dog brain game you can try playing with your dog. Start by drilling a few holes in different places of an empty bottle. Then, include a few treats inside the bottle.

Your dog needs to get the treats by moving and rolling the bottle. The smaller the hole, the more difficult it is for your dog to get the treats out. Therefore, it’s better to start with bigger holes.

Once your dog gets used to playing the game, you can try using smaller holes in a different bottle.

6. Paper Plates Game

Paper Plates Game for dogs

Things you need:

  • A few paper plates
  • A few treats
  • A pair of scissors

How to play:

This is an easy DIY dog brain game you can try if you have some extra paper plates lying around in your kitchen. 

Cut a line up to the middle of the paper plate and fold it into the shape of a cone. Drop a few treats into the cone and fold over one side to close it.

Make about 8 to 10 cones and see your dog become excited to reveal all the treats in them.

7. Frozen Treats

Frozen Treats Game for dogs

Things you need:

  • A freezer
  • An ice cube tray
  • Treats and water

How to play:

In this game, the dog takes more time to eat the food because it is frozen. 

Mix a few dog treats with water and put them on an ice cube tray. Leave the tray in the freezer until the mixture is frozen.

8. Shell Game

Shell game for dogs

Things you need:

  • A few lightweight cups
  • A few treats

How to play:

This is a very simple DIY dog brain game that you can try using a few containers or “shells” lying around your kitchen. You can use some lightweight, disposable cups for this purpose.

Take a few cups and keep them face down on a flat surface. Hide a few treats under around two cups. Your dog will be excited trying to find which cup has treats under it.

You can increase the difficulty of the game by adding more cups.

Here’s a list of other mind games for your dogs.

Benefits of Playing With Dogs

A dog is playing with a ball

Playing with your dog is important to keep them healthy. Here are the benefits of playing with dogs.

  • It promotes physical wellbeing
  • It keeps them mentally healthy
  • It improves the bond you have with your dog
  • It helps relieve their anxiety

Other Ways to Mentally Stimulate a Dog

There are many ways to mentally stimulate your dog apart from playing the above DIY dog brain games. Here are a few ways to do it.

  • Take your dog for a walk, swim, or hike.
  • Run errands with your dog, like a stopover at a friend’s place or a run to the mailbox.
  • Give your dog a job to do, such as a game of frisbee, or get it involved in a sport such as Flyball.
  • Introduce your dog to new people by taking it to the local park.
  • Move away from old toys and give your dog new toys to play with.

Here we’ve a list of the best outdoor games for dogs. Click here to read.


These DIY dog brain games are excellent mental stimulation activities for your dog.

Make it a point to give your dog the mental stimulation it needs as much as physical wellbeing. A combination of these will keep your dog healthy and happy.


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Thomas Villalpando
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of Dogs Academy. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. He has been featured in MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Sun, Entrepreneur & More. You can find more about him here.

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