5 Easy Brain Training Games for Dogs
Whether it's a rainy day, you're still stuck in lockdown or you had a few too many Martini's the night before and you just can't manage walkies, we've rounded up a selection of our favourite indoor games to keep our Doggo's brains ticking and their boredom officially busted!
It has been proven that dogs who have nothing to do all day will get bored (wouldn't we all?) which can eventually lead to doggy depression and feelings of loneliness, affecting their health and vitality. Keep them entertained with these games that will bring a smile to both you and your four-legged-friends faces!
The muffin game
If you follow us over on the Gram, you'll know that this is one of our favourite rainy day brain games and is so easy to prepare with things you already have in your kitchen cupboards. Forget expensive slow feeding bowls and contraptions - this game will cost you no more than a trip to your cupboard and toys and treats that you probably already have!
Start with a Muffin tin and a selection of balls or toys that fit into each muffin cup. Under each toy, hide some small treats that smell delicious. Sometimes we divide the doggo's entire breakfast between the cups to make them work for it! After a little 'sit and stay' training, release your fur-baby and let them sniff out the treats underneath the toys. To start with, most doggos will push the toys aside with their nose to get to the yummy stuff hiding underneath, but ideally you want to work towards having your doggo pick up the toys in their mouth to remove them from the tin to reach the treats. Don't forget to film the fun!
Remember back to the yester years when treasure hunts were THE MOST FUN YOU'VE EVER HAD? In fact, we'd say we're all still partial to a little treasure hunting, like at Easter when your Aunt Rhonda still bowls all the kids over to find the chocolates. Rude, but also we wish we had her determination.
Well this game is exactly the same, but hold the chocolates. Instead, get a selection of yummy treats. We use pieces of dehydrated meats, cheese, blueberries, carrots and chicken. Keep your doggos in another room of the house for a few minutes whist you walk around hiding the treasures in hidden places. It goes without saying that if you have a small dog, probably don't do the token 'on top of the photo frame above your TV' hiding spot, but choose places behind table legs, on top of the skirting boards, and underneath the shoe rack. Then release the hounds and watch them use their sniffers to find all the hidden gems. They'll be equally excited and mentally stimulated at the same time, trying to trust their noses to reveal the goodies!
The iPad game
This one comes with a warning, but expect HOURS of entertainment for both you and doggo when you get it right. To start, do not attempt this one without a heavy duty iPad screen protector and a case or else you will end up with one very grumpy fur-dad shortly after.
Download the iPad app called 'Cat Fishing'.... yes we know... we're here for the doggos not the catt-oh's but it works just as well for both. Then simply choose your background and watch the fish swim across the screen. Realistically, our fur-babes don't care what animal is crossing the iPad so you don't even have to tell them it's actually a game designed for cats. Heck, Pippa didn't even realise when she accidentally got out of the game and opened the calendar app - she still kept pouncing on the iPad 2 paws at a time and scrolled between 2016-2032 thinking it was the best game ever. Just quietly, we wouldn't mind scrolling right past 2020 right now either!
After about 20 minutes, she was panting with slobber strung across her face when the battery died. Highly recommend for days when you can't go outside for walks and want to mix some mental stimulation with full-on exercise. We call it a cheat walk!
The bottle game
Another super easy one with things you might already have around the house. Now, we don't condone regular use of single-use plastic bottles, however if you do have one lying around, here's a great way of turning it into a re-usable plastic bottle before recycling it later.
Just take the lid off any plastic water bottle, fill it with tiny treats and play! It's like a KONG toy, only $567 cheaper and you can even get a little creative with the difficulty. If pupper is finding it too easy to get the treats out of the lid hole, put the lid back on and instead cut a few tiny holes in the bottle in different places. Doggo will then need to roll and spin the bottle in order to make the treats come out of the hole. The best part is that they can actually see when there's treats left and won't give up playing until every last crumb is gone, unlike those $567 treat toys that hide the treats and some of us lazier (edit: more chill) doggos will give up when it gets too hard and we can't even tell if there's anything left. Just remember to clean up any torn plastic at the end!
The cup game
If you've ever tried to do a magic trick and instead of shock and awe, everyone just laughs at your attempt, then this one is for you. Guaranteed that your fur-babies will think this is magic, and it works exactly like the the magic trick version.
Get three cups and put the treats under only one of them. Move all the cups around to confuse doggo where the treats are hiding. The aim of the game is to make your fur-baby use their brain to decide which one has the treats hiding underneath them. They need to sniff or tap the cup they think is the winning cup and if they get it wrong, then it's your turn to move all the cups around again. The game only ends once doggo gets it right and reaps the rewards. Until then, they will very quickly realise that they need to watch properly and get it right otherwise they don't get the treasures underneath. This is one of the hardest ones to master as it requires the skill of 'tapping' the correct cup and takes some time for doggo to put 2 and 2 together to realise how it works and when they get to eat, but once you've got it mastered, you'll be the next internet sensation with a 'smartest doggo' achievement award!
BONUS: Tidy Up game
Last on our list (and definitely the hardest to master) is the 'game' that teaches your fur-babes how to clean up after themselves (or you!). This game requires prior knowledge of how to 'drop it' or 'let go' of an object, so if you haven't got that skill down pat yet, we'd recommend brushing up on that before attempting this.
Once you've nailed 'Drop It', scatter a whole lot of toys around and place your toy basket close by. Demonstrate to your doggo what you want them to do in order to get rewarded with treats by grabbing a toy and saying 'drop it' as you let it go in the toy basket. Then give your dog a treat reward. Now it's their turn.
Tap the toy you want them to pick up and choose a command word. We use 'Clean Up' so that it can be used for all the toys on the ground. Once your doggo has picked up the toy (or you've given them to the toy to hold in their mouth to help them understand) tap the toy basket and say 'Drop it'. If they drop it straight in front of them instead of in the basket, that still deserves 1x reward because they're half way there.
The next time you try it, put the toy basket right under their nose, so that they will (almost accidentally) drop the toy into the basket. The first time the toy goes into the basket, make a BIG DEAL about it and reward your doggo with an entire handful of treats. We call this the 'Jackpot' so our furbabies can figure out when they've done a good job versus a really great job. Once they get the hang of the jackpots, they'll want the jackpot again next time, so they'll start trying to figure out which actions gave them the jackpot versus which action got them only a single treat. Nail this one and you've got your very own in-house cleaner who only requires payment in the form of food - that's a win in our books!
*NOTE: There's a very good reason we don't have photos of this game for you. It's because we haven't mastered it yet. Watch this space!