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Puppies are good at running and playing physical games that are good for physical exercise. Your puppy, however, also needs mental exercise.
Puppy brain games help them develop self-confidence, and mental exercise also helps keep boredom away along with the destructive behaviour that goes with it. This type of exercise will also help to strengthen your bond with your puppy.
Let’s look at some terrific puppy brain games for stimulating your pup mentally.
1. Treasure Hunt
This can be a great brain game to teach your puppy. It is also a great way to reinforce basic obedience commands.
You play this game by having your puppy sit-stay or start out of the room. You then hide treats in a given area. When you give the release cue (usually ‘find it’), your puppy is free to find it. This game is teaching your pup to use their eyes, ears, nose, and cognitive skills.
As your puppy gets older and is capable of more commands, you can make the hiding places more difficult and complex to find. You can also add more obstacles to make it trickier. Treasure Hunt is one of the easiest puppy brain games because you don’t need anything extra, just your own environment!
2. Ring Stacking
Traditional ring stacking is a great brain game for your puppy. This game will help him learn coordination. As this is a difficult game to learn, it will be an activity that you can spend time perfecting. Which is also key bonding and training time.
Your puppy will be picking up the rings with their mouth, so be careful of any dyes or synthetic materials that the ring set is made up of.
While you are teaching your puppy to play this game, you may need to use a reward system to help get the idea. Clicker training would work well for this.
For variations, you can place the rings in a different location or locations so they have to be found first. But this is a very advanced skill. Another alternative is mounting the rod on a wall for horizontal stacking rather than vertical dropping.
3. Hide and Seek
Yes, the classic children’s game is a hit for dogs too. You will need at least two people for this game. One person will give the sit-stay command while the other person hides. Once the release cue is given, the puppy can start seeking.
This game is perfect for indoors on a rainy day or outdoors in new surroundings. As your puppy gets better at this game, you can add more people to seek.
4. Classic Shell Game
You will need opaque cups and small dog treats to play this game with your puppy. Start by having your puppy watch you place a treat under one of the cups. Then you mix the cup up and give him the command to come and try and guess which cup has the treat. If he guesses the wrong cup, don’t give him the treat. Try again.
This game really requires your puppy to use their sense of smell, sight, and cognitive reasoning.
5. Toy Pickup
This game is great stimulation for your puppy and helps clean up at the same time. When your puppy has a toy in their mouth, teach them to go over to the toy box. Once they are standing over the opening, give them the “drop it” command. When they do this praise them a lot!
Note: the first step to this training is word recognition and naming toys so they know which to pick up when you cue them to. Start by using the names for each toys a lot.
Puppy brain games should be part of your usual routine and you’ll find you’ll have a lot less destructive