Top 12 Mental Stimulation Games For Dogs To Become Geniuses 

There are a lot of tricks that you can teach your dog to behave better, but their play might be educational, too.

With mental games, it can even become genius and learn new tricks quicker. What is more, it is so easy to teach them, you will spend more of your time with them. We bring you 12 stimulating games for dogs and to play them!

dog playing with ball

Why Is Important To Teach Your Dog Stimulation Games

As a part of regular training, mental games aren’t necessary. Yet, these have a great effect on them and can improve their behaviour. First, they give them purpose and feeling of importance in life, so they will be happier and keen to spend less time with you. Older dogs are especially keen on changing behaviour, from disorientation to life rhythm change. Using mental games will help them stop memory loss and will keep their mind sharp. If you keep them interactive, it can be part of daily activity. For both educational and medical purposes, you can help your dog while having fun.

When To Start With Mental Stimulation Games For Dogs

It is never too soon to start with mental games. When you have a puppy, it is possible to involve a smaller amount of mental training in your everyday routine. You can use it during play since puppies need a lot of attention. What is more, it will entertain them more than a regular walk. The right time to start with mental stimulation games is when a dog is over 2 years. They are still energetic and regular stimulations may help them become sharp. It is also the right time to protect them from dementia when they become older. Even older dogs are capable of learning, for example, while house training an older dog without a crate, the key is to have patience and give them time.

dog playing

12 Mental Stimulation Games For Dogs

From finding ways on how to keep puppies from crying in crates to mild exercises for older dogs, your job is to keep them mentally and physically active for a vigorous and happy pet. Evidently, dogs need mental stimulation games, so we bring you even 12 you can incorporate in your daily routine!

Finding Treats

Dog’s best way to sense is by smell. They adore treats, but you can use them in interactive games instead. This nose game is easy to play, you can use healthy treats instead. The idea is to choose innovative ways regarding them. You can hide treats in nearby objects, like under their pillow and encourage them to find it. The other way is to trick their concentration. First, order them to sit. Then, put treats around them. Make them wait until you said the order. This will teach them patience, but they will be more concentrated on your orders.

Dog Puzzle

Puzzle toys are fun and interactive games that you can find in any pet shop or order online. This is an ideal solution if you don’t have creative ideas on how to keep your dog mentally active. They come in many shapes and varieties, but the main goal is to put shapes inside or find a treat. They will be highly motivated if you reward them afterwards. Just be sure that all components are made of dog-safe material.

Teaching New Tricks

It is true that tricks and good behaviour are part of primary training. Yet, there is always time to improve and learn more. For example, you can use older tricks, that dog has already mastered, to combine them into new and more complex. If you don’t have inspiration, there are plenty of tricks on the internet with instructions. You can try spinning around, bringing newspapers, closing the door… Be sure to continue with repeating old ones at the same time.

Play Nose Work Game

As dogs adore sniffing, it is ideal to use it for their mental stimulation. Nose work is a type of very physically active game that needs concentration and mental activity. You can easily play it while you walk. Hide or throw objects they can find and reward them every time they bring them to you. Also, you can play this game in an apartment or backyard… be innovative and find different ways to hide it.

eye contact

Make Eye Contact

A very simple and effective dog mental game is to keep eye contact. You can play this game whenever you remember. A good opportunity is when a dog puts its head in your lap. Try to get its attention to look you in the eyes. When you make eye contact, try to keep it for some time and reward them for good behaviour. This won’t only deepen the relationship between you, but also teach them to be patient and focused on tasks.

Hot And Cold Game

This game is an innovative way to keep dogs smart and active. It will help your dog recognise commands and the only thing you need to do is yell hot or cold and give them treats. Pick a goal in the room you want your dog to get close to or find. When they come close, say hot in a happy voice and toss a treat. When they get away, say cold in a lower voice and wait until they move. As a final reward, you may let them play with the goal. Try to be patient and use the right tone each time.

Treat Dispensing Toys

A fun and quick way to satisfy daily mental activity is to use toys that can be stuffed with treats. You can buy various toys and let your dog play with them until they find treats inside. You can try advanced toys with more actions to solve before getting a treat. Be sure that the material is completely safe and remove the toy if they begin to chew or eat it.

Hide And Seek

A fun activity that you can play with the whole family is hide and seek. Yet, in this case, the main star is a dog that needs to find you all. Each family member or whoever will play the game can take treats and hide. When you call your dog`s name, it must find you and will be rewarded with treats. Not only is it amusing to play but keeps their senses sharp.


Agility Course

An agility course is mental stimulation training where a dog is navigated to run and defend against obstacles with a guide. This has many levels of good exercise for your dog. First, jumping and running will keep your dog active and healthy. Then, solving the problem with obstacles will keep their mind sharp. You can help them in the beginning but let them find the solution later. You may be surprised to see the new way they have thought of it.

Teach It Toys’ Names

Most of the dogs recognize their names and will come if you call them. But, if you teach them to recognize their toys by name, they might be smarter and have better results in behaviour. It can be hard to teach them, but you need to be patient and rewarded every time they understand the name. Be patient and try to keep the same toys for a longer time. Even if they are destroyed, then replace them with something similar. A good tip is to teach them to clean after play, too. This will keep them interested in playing and teach them obligations.

Make Obstacles At Home

The Agility course may be expensive and requires travelling to the teaching point, but you can be creative and create a playground at home. With simple materials, such as cardboard and wood, you can make simple obstacles they can solve and play with. Use natural material that is better for their health and more natural to them. This is great for mental health but will also keep them active when you are away.

Play Shell Game

The shell game is a popular game where you hide an object under a shell and the other person tries to guess where it is hidden. In the dog version, you can use paper cups and hide a treat or favourite toy under it. Ask your dog to pick and wait for their reaction. When you move cups, try to move them slowly and allow it to remember where you have put a toy. Reward them with treats or toys when they find it.

To Sum Up

There are many mental stimulation games for your dog that can keep them smart and sharp. As a part of training, you can include them even from an early age. Yet, they are very important in senior years to prevent dog dementia and mental illness. As there are many solutions, you can find easy and everyday games to include into the routine. If your dog needs fun, check the offer of the best interactive ball launcher or best-rated self ball thrower for dogs.

Joana has graduated in Linguistics in 2014. and began her work experience as a journalist and freelance writer. Her professional writing experience, as well as experience with pets, brought her to Petovly where she’s an editor. Working on the site, she collaborates with vets and animal shelter workers she has met when she was volunteering as a student. This experience made her an expert in pets’ care, breeds, and diseases.