People often think that all dogs need is love, good food, and a good bit of physical exercise such as walking, jumping, and hiking. However, there are more things that dogs need apart from the usual walking and playing outdoors.
Brain training is crucial for canines just as much as physical training. You won’t believe that a few minutes of mentally stimulating activities could tire your dog out sooner than you think.
Here’s a guide to canine brain training that you can try for a few minutes daily.
What Is Canine Brain Training?
Canine brain training involves working out a canine’s brain as working out the body. It involves playing various games with your dog, and it helps tap into your dog’s cognitive ability while providing adequate mental stimulation.
Canine brain training can be helpful in many ways, and you must include a few brain training exercises as part of your dog’s daily routine.
Benefits Of Canine Brain Training
Following are the benefits of canine brain training and why you should do it more often.
- It encourages your dog to think creatively and have fun.
- It improves your dog’s problem-solving skills.
- It provides an outlet for anxiety
- It alleviates boredom in your dog.
- It gives the opportunity to engage in activities like digging and searching for objects.
- It helps slow the cognitive changes that come along as your dog ages.
- It prevents your dog from displaying unwanted behavior.
- It helps strengthen the bond you have with your dog.
- It keeps your dog sharp and alert to its surroundings.
Canine Brain Training Methods
You can engage your dog in mentally stimulating activities in many creative ways. You only need a few simple things and some creativity to develop fantastic games related to brain training for dogs.
Here is a compilation of canine brain training methods that are simple yet effective.
1. Play Hide The Toy Game
This game is ideal for enhancing your dog’s natural scenting ability and burning through excess energy via physical exercise. Ask your dog to ’stay’ and hide a toy in a prominent place just a few feet from where it stands.
Next, hide it further away in yet another apparent hideout and ask your dog to find it. After a few successful tries, you can try hiding the toy in another room where your dog can’t see it.
At the end of several tries, your dog would be tired, at which point you can stop playing the game.
2. Play The Spin Game
This is also a fun-trick game that you can play with your dog. Puppies usually master this game quite fast.
Hold a treat before your dog’s nose and trace it in a circle right above. Your dog will also follow it around in a circle and give your dog a treat once it completes a circle.
Repeat this process, making each time faster than the previous. Don’t forget to reward your dog after each successful attempt.
3. Teach Your Dog To Focus
The ability to focus is crucial for a dog, and this brain training game does that. It’s helpful in real-world situations where your dog needs to look at you instead of potential stressors when it feels anxious.
Put a treat close to your dog and press the clicker when it picks the treat up and looks at you for another. Repeat this process, and remember to click when your dog looks at you after picking up the treat.
As you progress in this game, extend the time your dog holds your gaze. Name this behavior as “watch” so your dog gets familiar with it. Repeat it in different places inside the house and outside to generalize it.
4. Play The Hot And Cold Game
The hot and cold game uses verbal communication to assist your canine in finding a hidden toy or treat. This game is also an excellent way to provide your dog with adequate mental stimulation.
To play this game, hide a treat when your dog is not watching. Ask your dog to search for the hidden treat.
Use a sharp tone to let your dog know that it’s moving away from where the treat is hidden. Similarly, use an exciting tone when your dog gets close to the hideout.
This game improves your dog’s listening skills and helps him understand what you’re saying. As a result, it helps build the unique language you and your dog share.
5. Make An Indoor Pit For Digging
Digging is a favorite activity of any dog, but it’s not always that they get the opportunity to do so. Making way for your dog to engage in this behavior in a safe setting addresses the urge while giving its brain a workout.
Fill up a container or box with low sides with dog-safe materials like small pieces of toilet paper rolls or rags cut into strips. Make sure that these materials are not what your dog generally prefers to eat.
Hide a few treats or part of your dog’s meal between these materials. Your dog will be highly-interested and focused on this game because of the excitement of finding the hidden treats. It’s a great way to provide mental stimulation for your dog.
6. Play Interactive Treat Game
Get some plastic bowls or containers and stack them together, nested inside each other. They could all be the same size or arranged from larger to smaller.
Place a treat on each of the containers. You can start with three containers and increase the number as you play the game with your dog.
Start by keeping the top container open with a treat. Your dog will get the treat and try to get the treats from the containers one below the other. You must supervise this game at all times to ensure your dog doesn’t chew on the plastic containers.
7. Get Your Dog A Puzzle Toy
Giving your dog puzzle toys is a great way to keep him entertained and busy. Puzzle toys provide great mental stimulation and are safe for dogs to use.
Puzzle toys help your dog focus on a specific task and alleviate boredom. It’s a great indoor activity, especially when unfavorable weather.
Additionally, puzzle toys also give your dog a chance to improve and use its natural problem-solving abilities. Puzzle toys also help boost confidence in dogs and improve their memory.
8. Make An Obstacle Course
Training your dog to surpass an obstacle course provides excellent mental stimulation from physical exercise.
You can use a blanket and ask your dog to go under it. You can also use a broomstick in your home and ask your dog to jump over it.
These games make your dog focus on something and listen to your instructions. Then they learn to follow one instruction after listening intently to your commands.
9. Play The Shell Game
The shell game involves hiding a treat under one of three identical containers or cups. This brain game is a great way to improve your dog’s problem-solving and reasoning skills.
Start by putting a treat under one of three identical containers or cups. Let your dog watch you hide the treat and then shuffle the cups. Ask your dog to find the treat hidden under one of the cups.
Your dog will find it exciting to search for the treat while developing his ability to solve complex problems.
10. Play Shaping Games
Playing shaping games is an excellent way to improve your dog’s creative thinking skills. It lets your dog explore various options he is given and choose one of his choices, and it also allows your dog to try out new things.
Playing shaping games will increase your dog’s physical and mental flexibility and aid decision-making.
Give your dog a box and let your dog investigate it and decide what to do without any cues from you. Your dog might decide to get into the box, jump over the box, move the box to another place, etc.
Other Ways To Support Canine Brain Health
A healthy diet is vital for healthy brain function in your dog. Give your dog premium and high-quality dog food to get all the required nutrients.
You can also give it veterinary-recommended supplements with natural ingredients to promote cognitive wellness.
Also, give your dog adequate physical exercise. Take a walk, play with it, and engage your dog in training activities.
Canine brain training is vital to raising a happy and healthy canine. Your dog needs mental stimulation just as much as it requires physical exercise.
Make brain training a fun activity, so your dog finds it exciting and interesting enough to keep up with it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Canine Brain Training Worth It?
Brain training is essential for dogs as they need mental stimulation and physical exercises. A lack of appropriate brain training could affect your dog’s mental health.
How Much Mental Stimulation Does A Canine Need In A Day?
Canines need at least 15 to 20 minutes of mental stimulation a day.