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15 fun games that will mentally stimulate your dog

As a loving pet parent, you may be wondering how you can have fun with your dog whilst also keeping their brain sharp. Dogs get bored just like people and for our canine companions, boredom can often result in bad behaviour. Read on for 15 fun games that will mentally stimulate your dog!

Purchase some interactive toys

Dogs love interactive toys and the problem-solving aspect will keep them busy for hours. You can shop interactive toys online or in most pet shops and there is a huge range of options to suit every budget. It has been proven that interactive toys help dogs focus and learn how to problem solve so it’s no wonder that these are constantly flying off the shelves!

Food dispensing toys

As well as interactive toys, you can also purchase food dispensing toys that release a treat when your dog successfully completes a task. Your dog has to use their wits and wits alone to get that elusive tasty treat and they pose a challenge they don’t regularly come across. This is excellent mental stimulation and is hugely beneficial for their long-term cognitive health. 

Play hide and seek

It’s not just children that love hide and seek, dogs love it too! If you’ve never played this game with your dog before, start by hiding somewhere obvious and reward them with loads of cuddles when they manage to find you. Your dog will quickly begin to understand how the game works and you can start being more creative with your hiding places. 

Buy some dog puzzles

Just like humans, dogs love puzzles. You can buy a range of dog puzzles for different abilities and increase the complexity as your dog gets more savvy solving them. Offering your pooch a treat when they complete a puzzle successfully will make them all the more keen to spend time on the task, so be sure to have a pouch of treats to hand!

Make a treasure hunt

Who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned treasure hunt? Get a few dog treats or a few slices of a Meatiful sausage, show them to your dog, then hide them around the house without your dog seeing. Subtly lead them to the first hiding place and congratulate them when they find their first tasty morsel. We guarantee that your dog will catch on quickly and will have found the rest of the hidden treats in no time. 

Set them a task

Keeping your dog mentally stimulated doesn’t have to be difficult and you can also make it work in your favour. Dogs love learning new tasks and they feel more confident and independent when they do so. Teach them something useful, like how to fetch your keys or your shoes and offer them a treat as a reward. Dogs can learn a wide range of words and they have the mental capacity of a two-year-old child. Just like toddlers, they love doing little things for their pet parents and it also helps with brain development. 

The name game

You may not believe it but the average dog can actually learn up to 165 words! Teaching your fur baby new words is a great way to challenge them mentally and improve their memories. Start small, teaching them the names of one or two toys, then begin asking them to fetch the toys for you. Before long, your pooch will make the connection and you can begin adding new words. 

The muffin tray game

This simple household item also doubles up as a fun toy for your pooch! To set this up, add a few treats to a couple of the grooves, then cover all twelve with tennis balls. Your dog will have a whale of a time trying to suss out which grooves hold the tasty treats, while you sit back and have a much needed cuppa.

The which hand game

Hold some treats in one of your hands, then hold both hands in a fist and point them downwards. Encourage your dog to place a paw on the hand that contains the treat and when they do so, reward them with it! This may take a few tries before your dog gets it right but it’s an excellent game to try and really helps a dog focus on the task at hand. 

The cup game

This is similar to the which hand game, but you can make it a little bit more complicated. Place three cups on a table, with treats underneath one of them, showing your dog exactly which one has the treats. Then move the cups around slowly and encourage your dog to nudge the one that contains the treats. If they get it right they get the treat! 

Teach them to put their toys away

This may not sound like a fun game for you, but for dogs, helping put things away is something they love to do! You can teach your dog to do this by putting away their toys and repeatedly saying ‘tidy’. Then encourage your dog to pick up remaining toys and repeat the ‘tidy’ command. If they do it right make sure to offer lots of praise and affection.

Arrange a playdate

Nothing stimulates a dog more than playing with a furry friend! Set up a playdate for your pooch in the park and get both dogs involved in a few games. Dogs are very social animals and company is good for their mental wellbeing. Not to mention, you get to play with another fur baby in the process!

Consider clicker training

Clicker training is an excellent way of communicating with your dog when they have shown positive behaviour (even when you didn’t ask for it!). It is also a great way to keep your pooch’s mind sharp as it increases their focus on day-to-day tasks. It is really quite simple to master- press the clicker when your dog successfully completes a task and reward them with a treat. Before long, your dog will understand that when they hear that clicker, they’ve done something good!

Fill up a paddling pool

With the weather getting warmer, what better time to get out the old paddling pool! Any form of variety when it comes to play is good for your dog’s brain so fill that pool up and get ready to watch your pup splash around! Dogs love water and when the weather is hot, this is a great way to keep them cool.

Alternate their toys

It’s understandable that dogs don’t want to play with the same toys, day in, day out. Keep your dog’s mind sharp by rotating their toys; not only does this help keep their interest for longer, it also contributes to good behaviour as they’re less likely to get bored! Alternatively, you can shop long lasting TastyBone chew toys that are packed with delicious flavour and sure to keep your dog busy for hours on end.  

Do you like to play games with your dog? Connect with Meatiful on social media and tell us how you keep your dog busy!