Dogs are brilliant animals, so it’s just as important to exercise their brains as it is to their bodies. Boredom in dogs can cause frustration, potentially leading to unwanted destructive behavior. Brain games are a great way to work out your fur baby’s mind, but puzzle toys can get very expensive or may not come in a size that suits your pet. Here are some simple DIY brain games that will keep your pup entertained for hours!
Licking releases pleasure endorphins that help dogs to calm down and relieve stress. Creating your own dog popsicle can provide great mental stimulation and encourage slower eating habits. To create the pupsicle, you will need; a freezer-safe dog bowl, a plastic bag to prevent spills in your freezer, some of your dog’s food and favorite snacks, and water.
Start by spreading a layer of dog-safe peanut butter, plain greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, or wet dog food on the bottom and sides of the bowl. Top this with some of your dog’s food or favorite healthy snacks. Foods like blueberries, peas, carrots, and bananas work very well and are great for your pet in moderation.
Repeat the layering process 1 to 2 more times, and then fill the bowl with water. Place the bowl in the plastic bag and carefully place it in the freezer. It is best to leave it overnight to ensure it has time to freeze fully. Once frozen, remove it from the plastic bag and serve it to your dog for hours of licking fun.
Testing your pup’s powerful nose is a great way to engage their mind. This simple game only requires a muffin pan, tennis balls, treats, or some of your dog’s food. Place the treats or food in some, but not all, of the muffin cups. Put tennis balls on top of all the muffin cups. Place the tray in front of your dog, and let them sniff out the goodies. Your dog will have to move the ball out of the way to get to the treats beneath.
This game engages both body and mind. Once again, relying on your dog’s keen sense of smell. The whole family can participate and the game can be played indoors or outside. This is an especially great game if you are working on your pup’s recall skills.
Start by grabbing a few treats or your dog’s favorite toy. Have one person hold onto your dog and use the “stay” command. Hide in an easily visible spot for the first round, and give the “find me” command. Once your dog locates you, give lots of praise and hand them a treat or a toy.
Increase the difficulty of your hiding spot with each round, so your dog is relying more on smell than sight or sound. Eventually, the person holding your dog can give the commands instead, and your pup will find you based on smell alone.