If there’s one thing dogs love to do, it’s play. Whether they’re a puppy or a full-grown adult, they’ll never lose their love of playtime. Playing has great physical benefits, but that’s not all it’s good for. Playtime is a great way to mentally challenge your dog. And, we’ve got 6 ways to do just that.
Since dogs use their noses for pretty much everything, why not put it to work? Nosework exercises are a perfect way to help build confidence and bond with your pup. You can start with a simply DIY game right in your home or yard.
For the game, you’ll several different boxes of varying sizes. Spread them around the area with treats hidden underneath them. Tell your dog to “search” or “find it”. Then, gradually increase the difficult of the game by adding new hiding spots.
Dog hide-and-seek is another nosework game. You’ll need the help of another friend or family member. While they distract your pup, you hide. When they let them loose, see how quickly they can find you!
Next time you’re at the pet store, pick up a treat dispensing ball toy. A great option is the Brain Ball by Project Play. The seemingly simple looking rubber ball is actually made up of multiple tiers that trap treats. To get the treats out, dogs have to throw, bounce, or toss the ball around.
Other toy options in Kong balls, which allow you to stuff the inside of the toy with a treat, peanut butter, or even cream cheese.
Puzzle Plush Toys
Is your dog a fan of the plush and squeaky toys? Get them one that will put them to work. The Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel features a reek trunk with holes and six squeaky squirrels hiding within. Before they try and ripe the plush stuffing out, they’ll have to use their brains, paws, and mouth to get all the squirrels out.
Want to get your dog excited? Get them a toy that mimics real-life movements of prey animals. Dog-specific toys that look – and act – like bouncing balls will make your dog pivot and pounce trying to figure out where the ball will be next. Frisbees are another great live action toy option – especially those made of durable rubber.
DIY Brain Games
If you’re a lover of DIY, this mentally challenging game is for you – and your dog. You’ll need a muffin tin, tennis balls, and treats. Place a treat in the muffin compartments (either all the compartments or just a few to make it more challenging. Then, cover the space with a tennis ball. Praise your pup as they nose and paw the tennis balls out of the way to get the treat!
Treat Dispensing Toys
These puzzle toys are a great way to mentally challenge your dog. Nina Ottosson is a puzzle toy designer and has created safe, challenging, and fun treat-dispensing toys since 1990. She offers a wide range of products for every age and skill level. Check out her puzzles here.
Do you have any fun games you like to play with your pup? Let us know in the comments below!