10 Best Mind Games for Dogs That Actually Help With Boredom

Last Updated on July, 2024

Brain games are the 2020s solution to make a puppy intelligent. However, not many people understand the mentally stimulating part of brain games.

This read covers A to Z about the 10 best mind games for dogs. But that’s not it.

You’re also going to learn about a recently introduced secret. You can boost your pup’s intelligence a few times more than just playing brain games by utilizing that.

Bookmark this page, and be sure to read each section carefully. 

Let us begin, my fellow pet parents!

Quick Summary

The 10 Best Mind Games for Dogs are Brain Training for Dogs Program, The Dog Puzzle, Treats For Improvised Tricks, Name Game For Toys (And Beyond), ‘Which Hand’, Variations of Hide-And-Seek, Shell Game, Toy or Food dispensing Toys, Tug Of War & Learn-A-Word

Brain games are beneficial for dogs and help with intelligence and boredom.

Playing fun brain games with dogs can improve their problem-solving skills, confidence, and understanding, and can also help with behavioral issues.

Brain Training for Dogs – The Newest Trick in the Market

A dog playing a mind game

This research reveals how dogs’ minds differ based on the breed. But we already know how pups and even some adult dogs struggle to develop their intelligence. 

What if I told you there was a simple course to brain train your pup like a pro?

Before I answer that, check if the following are familiar to you:

  1. Your dog is either a pup or needs to be trained.
  2. A family member is struggling to play with the pup.
  3. Your dog has barking, potting, whining, and even hyperactivity problems.
  4. Is your dog aggressive?
  5. Your pup definitely has a chewing problem.
  6. You’re not familiar with brain games for dogs, at all.
  7. And any experience that screams the need of mind training your dog.
Brain Training for Dogs Program

If you can relate to any point mentioned above, you should probably check out the brain training online course designed by Adrienne Farricelli.

She’s a professional CPDT-KA certified dog trainer who single-handedly replaced the role of expensive professional dog trainers.

And, get this — the course is done ONLINE, the structure is simple and gradual, and affordable. But, most importantly, it is designed for even the most stubborn dog. 

This course is named BrainTraining4Dogs. I highly recommend you to consider this course because it lays down the fundamentals of taming a dog.

This helps you skyrocket your dog’s intelligence levels with any brain game in and outside the course.

If information is not enough & you want to learn more about this course, click here to read the full review.

Why is it Important to Brain Train a Dog?

Mental stimulation games make dogs so much better. But, better how?

  • Bored dogs aren’t happy dogs. So, a fun brain game keeps a dog entertained.
  • Untamed dogs are notorious for destructive behavior. Brain games are ideal for impulse control.
  • Tamed dogs who are untrained lack confidence. You can boost your dog’s confidence with brain stimulating games.
  • Brain games for dogs improve problem-solving skills rapidly. 
  • Dog owners can probably make money at dog tournaments!
  • Mental stimulation by these games improves your dog’s understanding. So, no more excessive barking at nothing!
  • Sometimes, bonding with dogs can be challenging. Fun brain games speed up the process.
  • How many times has your dog snatched away the food from the kitchen?

So now that you have the perfect foundation, let us get into these mentally stimulating games!

The 10 Best Fun Brain Games for Dogs

1. Treats For Improvised Tricks

Treats For Improvised Tricks game

For your luck, pups are born intelligent to some extent. But a dog needs a reason to use its brain. This incentive for that is treats. So, how do you play this game?

The trick is to establish a command. For example, suppose you say, “do a new trick, buddy”, and the dog will sit, turn around, or do something else. Then, you’re supposed to give a treat with all the dog’s new tricks

If the pup repeats a trick, say “you already did that, buddy. Do something new”. Have your dog learn that it needs to improvise every time for a treat.

This game is one of the best approaches to introducing complex commands to your dog.

Tip: Use words such as shy, speak, roll, twist, etc., that your dog understands.

Benefit: Intelligence boosting is as good as any toy with puzzling.

2. Name Game For Toys (And Beyond)

This game is about names for toys. So, indoors is the best place to play this fun game. So, how does this game work?

This game works perfectly, even if only a few dog toys exist. The point is to familiarize names of specific toys. Make sure you have a few treats when you start. After that, assign names to each toy. 

After that, let the dog familiarize the assigned names. Once you do, you can simply guide them to identify toys by toy names. Then, give them treats as they do while repeating the process. This will help them choose a favorite toy as well.

Check this simple guide here and see how it works:

Tip: Don’t name all the dogs toys at once. Instead, familiarize each and move forward.

Extended benefit: Your furry friend learns the names of the toys. It lays a foundation for many other games.

3. The Dog Puzzle

Puzzle toys for dogs keep the pup occupied while its skills boost. The theory is simple; figure out a way to take the treat out. 

I recommend starting things simple before you level up to an actual puzzle toy. Think of it as an introductory course to an outward hound puzzle. 

For this, all you need is a muffin tin, a few softballs, and keeping your dog’s favorite treats inside. What happens next?

Hide the treats under each tennis ball and let your dog locate them first. Then, you’ll see how the dog’s interest focuses on finding the treat. Here’s a simple guide.

After the muffin tin and tennis ball stage comes actual puzzle toys, stuffed kong, or even a treat ball are simpler versions of puzzles. However, the outward hound puzzle is the ideal example. Here’s how this dog puzzle works.

The outward hound puzzle is a best seller on Amazon. A trick ball isn’t a bad idea either.

If you want to do something bespoke and DIY, here’s the perfect guide for homemade food puzzle toys:

Tip: Ensure the treat-revealing mechanism of the puzzle toy is dog-friendly.

Extended Benefit: Have your dog enjoy and understand mechanical mechanisms.

4. ‘Which Hand’ 

Making a dog choose between 2 or more choices is how you sharpen their brains. It’s like a baby being able to talk, although it probably won’t be a big deal as they grow up. So how does this game work?

There are two main ways to play the game: treats or dog toys. Whichever path you choose, keeping your dog mentally stimulated should be the priority.

If you’re using treats

Begin by having your dog sit, so the focus isn’t easily lost. 

If you’re doing the game by using treats, the dog must get to smell the treat beforehand. That’s because your dog responds to the scent of the treats.

Close your fist with treats inside and let them smell it. It’s as simple as that. Check this demonstration right here:

If you’re using toys

However, the approach should be different with toys. You need to familiarize the toy well enough. But don’t feel discouraged if your pup isn’t so successful with toys. Because there’s a solution for that — it’s the shell game.

Tip: Dog’s brain responds to the scent of the treats better.

Extended Benefit: Improve your dog’s smelling capacity gradually.

5. Variations of Hide-And-Seek

Hide-And-Seek for dogs

Playing hide and seek is the oldest trick in the book. But, transforming this great game into a brain game doesn’t take much energy. 

The dog is allowed to see you hiding when you play hide and seek traditionally. However, this version focuses on the detective skills of the pup. One could say it was a derivation of the name game.

You should hide without letting your dog see and call its name out. Don’t call their name out repeatedly. Playing hide and seek will keep your pup mentally stimulated the whole time.

This research right here proves the actual value of this game.

Tip: Hide in a place that your dog is already aware of.

Extended benefit: Dog’s analytical skills in locating sources of sound increase.

6. Shell Game

I told you not to worry if the ‘which hand’ game isn’t successful with toys. This game has multiple names; cup game, three cups game, and shell game. 

You need to have three identical cups for this game. First, hide a toy or a small ball under a cup and train the pup to flip the cup or at least point at it. After that, have your dog watch as you hide the toy under a cup.

Then, let it choose where the toy is. Most dogs keep up easily. After that, let your dog watch as the cups shuffle. Now, the toy is under one cup. Let your dog pick that cup; if it touches it, it’s pretty enough.

As you go, you’ll be able to complicate the shuffling and use different toys. 

Check out how pros play this game with dogs right here:

Tip: Avoid shuffling the cups unnecessarily fast because your dog might lose focus.

Extended Benefit: Improved attention span of your pup.

7. Toy or Food dispensing Toys

Do you remember how you extracted coins from your piggy bank?

The same theory applies to a toy or treat-dispensing toy.

Understanding dispensation patterns of a treat-dispensing toy is so much fun for dogs. Does it tire their mind out a little bit? Sure. But hear me out — it’s a good thing because the dogs will be much more intelligent once they get accustomed to it.

Let’s look at the two types of dispensation toys:

  • Toy dispensation toys

Imagine a bigger toy, preferably a soft-toy type, filled with more soft toys. For example, the bigger toy could be filled with plush squirrels. 

As your dogs try to pull out the toys, their brain will analyze faster methods. This is the foundation for understanding much more complex real-world things.

  • Food dispensation toys

While food dispensation toys provide mental stimulation, the dog loves the food — Dogs are always hungry.

A stuffed Kong is one solid example of a food-dispensing toy. In addition, Kibble Nibble, Pickle Pocket, The IQ treat ball, and even the Tug-A-Jug are unique food dispensation toys. 

However, our best recommendation is a kong toy. This food dispensing toy dispenses all sorts of dog food easily. In addition, you can keep your dog busy for a longer time.

Here’s a simple guide on using the Kong toy like a pro:

Tip: Be sure to show your dog how the toy or the treat comes out; the dispensation mechanism.

Extended Benefit: Boosts your dog’s problem-solving skills in a fun way.

8. Tug Of War

Tug of war is an entertaining game. After all, the mental stimulation delivered is identified to be primarily physical. That’s where you’re wrong, my friend. The game’s design upgrades your dog’s brain.

The cup game needs static attention. But, this is a game of dynamic attention — the dog is physically active. And it’s so much fun.

All you need to do is tug on the toy as your dog holds onto it. In doing so, you must ensure that your dog doesn’t end up with damaged teeth.

The trick is to train your happy dog to let go on command. That’s how to steer clear of future aggressive behavior, preserving the dog’s good health.

Tip: Choose one specific toy just for tugging, and don’t play the game whenever the dog brings a toy up to you. Check out more mistakes to avoid right here:

Extended Benefit: Increases rapid responses to sudden commands.

9. Hot Or Cold

This is a derivation of the name game. However, there’s a big difference. You train the dog to pause as it walks toward you instead of letting them come running at you.

Have your dog sit afar, maybe in the corner of your backyard or your room. Command the dog to come at you initially. When it does, say ‘hot’ when you want it coming at you. The word ‘cold’ could be to walk away or stay put.

There’s another way to play this great game. But that method might take some practice. Check out how strategic the dog trainer is right here:

You can hide a treat or toy and command the dog to find it. For example, if the dog is getting closer, you say ‘hot’, and you say ‘cold’ if it is getting away or off the path.

Tip: Familiarize the dog’s response to the ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ commands.

Extended benefit: The dog learns how to find hidden things with verbal commands.

10. Learn-A-Word

A 2011 research study revealed that a Border Collie could learn roughly 1000 words from toys. So, yes — dogs are more than capable of learning new words. 

Learn-a-word is one game that starts simple. For example, you let the dog learn different toy names. Then, as you go, you can start bringing in things that aren’t toys. This could be anything such as a shoe, a cup, a pillow, and so on.

With the learn-a-word game, the dog stays mentally stimulated while it expands its vocabulary. The more objects they can identify, the more commands you can use.

For example, you could train the dog to drop his favorite toys in one of the cardboard boxes. The other toys can go elsewhere. But, the dog can’t do this if it is unfamiliar with words. Identifying prerequisites makes brain games for dogs most successful.

Tip: Use the most familiar toys at the start.

Extended benefit: Increased vocabulary improves intelligence.

The Big Question: Does a ‘Fun’ Brain Game Mentally Stimulate a Dog?

Dog playing puzzle

The short answer is YES. 

Entertainment is the hook for your dog to stay interested. All the best brain games for dogs are based on a fun way of playing. Unlike humans, many dogs do not understand that there were more prominent reasons for the game. 

One of the honorable mentions of a game is the treasure hunt. You can make a DIY course yourself, prioritizing the dog’s mental stimulation. A few cardboard boxes might be enough.

I need to pinpoint just how beneficial these games are for pups. Especially since tendencies for destructive behavior will be sorted without them even noticing it. 

Eventually, your canine companion will be much more intelligent, entertained, and tamed. This case study from 2004 is a good academic source for that.

In Conclusion

Tell me if you now don’t know EVERYTHING you need to know about brain games for dogs now. 

So, I hope this read kept you hooked and educated you. If it did, be sure to leave a comment. After all, I’d love to hear if I missed anything significant. Did I? Let me know down here in the comments.

Be sure to check out the BrainTraining4Dogs because that’s the easiest way.

Most importantly, be sure to share this with your friends and family. Who knows? Their dogs will be thankful you did.

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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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