Games to Exercise Your Dog’s Brain

There are a number of dog owners (like yours truly for many years) who are unaware of the fact that a dog’s brain needs to be exercised, just like a human’s.  I, for one, will confess that for many years of owning a dog, I underestimated the importance of exercising the dog’s brain.

The thing is, if we don’t stimulate the dog’s brain, then they will get bored and listless which is the precursor of many behavioral issues.

The game of ‘fetch’, for example, is great fun for you and your pet, but it provides no mental stimulus.  Playing some mentally stimulating games is as important as keeping your dog fit and physically healthy.

So, as well as taking it on a walk or involving it in a light game of tug-of-war, spend time playing some of the mental games that you can find in any any good pet accessory store and online.  It will reduce the dog’s tendency to be destructive and improve the dog’s overall health.  Or, of course, you can devise your own.

It takes time, effort and patience, but the rewards will make it worth your while.

Some of the games in this series will give you some ideas.

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Part one of this two-part series brings you the first 5 mental exercise games that you can teach your pet.



Your dog should use both ears and nose to seek you out. You can start out the game by hiding in an easy location and when he gets the hang of it, you can hide in much harder locations.

It is important to reward your dog for all his feats no matter how little as this will encourage him and let him know he’s doing the right thing.



How about a good ol’ treasure hunt for your best bud! Dogs have a great sense of smell and this makes your treasure hunt a great game for your dog. Use a good treasure for this hunt; things your dog loves would be best when starting out. You could use his favorite toy, let him sniff it and then hide it for him to find.

You can start off by hiding the toy in plain sight and giving him a sign to retrieve it. Move to more complex tasks as he gets better at it.

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A new trick game aims at bringing out your dog’s creativity. Just like a joker card, a new trick can be anything from sitting to rolling over to jumping high in the air.

To begin, say ‘new trick’ and let your dog do something to impress you. Ensure what he does is good enough for a reward.



To begin this game, get your dog to understand the command to drop a toy. It may not be easy at first but he’ll get the hang of it. Has he? Great! Now, the next step is to teach him to pick up the toys and drop them into a basket.

This game will not only stimulate your dog’s brain, it’ll also help keep your house tidy. It’s a win-win situation!

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Another great game to teach your dog is naming things. You can start the game by using his favorite toy, say the name of the toy and when the dog takes the toy, reward him. Do this a couple times and once he has mastered it, place the toy and a different item, say the toy’s name and see which he picks up.

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Dogs are really intelligent animals and can be taught anything. From name games to treasure hunts, there are amazing games that can be included in your dog training routines to help stimulate your dog’s mind.

Remember to always set your dog up for success when starting a new game to encourage him.

Do have ideas for other brain games?  Let us know below!

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