The 6 Best Brain Games for Dogs

Do you want to bring variety into your time together with your dog? Does your dog seem bored? Do you want to keep his sweet little head busy? Then you've come to the right place! We'll show you six brain games that you can try out and have fun playing with your pet.

Hang socks
Table of Contents

Why Dog Activities Are So Important

Just like you, your dog gets bored sometimes. A little variety in their activities can help . Your four-legged friend needs mental exercise in addition to his walks for a balanced everyday life.

If your darling is not sufficiently busy, he quickly gets silly ideas. He usually shows his boredom by doing things that are actually forbidden. For example, he may knock over the trash can or turn your shoes into a toy.

Nagging your dog about his actions won't help in the long run. Instead, you should fight the problem at the source. For this, you can diversify his day through brain gamesand your sweet dog will have so much fun.

How to Keep Your Dog Busy Through Play

You have to keep a dog busy – you've probably heard this countless times. But how do you actually do this? What does a dog like to play? How do you know that something is fun for him?

The answer to this is simple and unclear at the same time: try a wide variety of games . Does your dog like to dig through things? Does he prefer to chase exciting smells? Does he enjoy sprinting around corners to get to the big reward?

The easiest way to find out is to test different types of games with your four-legged friend . Your dog is always happy when you spend time with him . Prepare a game for him and observe whether he goes along or doesn't quite know what to do.

The frequency and difficulty of the mind games your four-legged friend needs can be roughly derived from the breed . In the end, however, every dog has its own individual character and interests that give it particular pleasure. You know your dog best. Together, you'll uncover his favorite game.

What Are the Different Types of Dog Activity?

Dogs can be kept busy in many different ways. On one hand, there is physical play, and on the other hand is mental play . In order to have a balanced four-legged friend, it is important to offer him a little of both.
The physical workout is often done quite easily. For many dogs, their daily walks are already enough for this. If this is not the case, you can also ride a bike with them, go jogging, play with a ball, or try dog sports like agility.

Alternatively, the mental workout often holds many questions for dog owners. What is a mental workout, exactly? Dogs are extremely intelligent creatures . Of course, their clever little mind also wants to be challenged! This not only occurs during physical training, when you teach the sweet four-legged friend new tricks, but also during play.

While dogs sniff something out with their nose, their brain is working particularly hard . Looking for something with his sense of smell is fun for your faithful companion. At the same time, however, it's quite exhausting. You can take advantage of this to keep him busy with little brain games.

3 Ideas for Indoor Thinking Games

Treasure chest dog

Maybe there's a storm raging outside, the summer heat is slamming you in the face as soon as you leave the house, or you just want to spend some time inside with your dog. For this, there are some simple brain games that are easy to organize, but will keep your cute, furry friend neatly occupied.

Game No. 1: Take off Socks

For this game you only need three items to prepare: old socks, a clothesline (or something similar), and treats. First, fill the socks with treats. Then, hang the clothesline at a height that is easy for your dog to reach.

Now, hang the socks loosely over the clothesline so your dog can easily pull them down. Let him try it on his own first . If he doesn't know what to do, encourage him to do it and show him that the socks are super interesting and worth pulling on until they fall off.

If your four-legged friend has difficulty understanding the game at first, you can reward him with treats when he removes a sock. If he is good at it, you can also let him work out his reward himself by taking the treat out of the sock. Keep in mind, the socks could be torn in the process.

Once your dog gets the hang of it, increase the difficulty . Hang the clothesline a little higher so your pet has to jump to catch a sock, or wrap the socks a little tighter around the clothesline so it's harder to take them down.

Game No. 2: Treasure Chest

This game uses your dog's nose to search. You will need a crate/box of suitable height for your dog, socks, newspaper, and treats. The box should only be high enough so that your dog can easily hold his head over the edge and reach the bottom of the box with his muzzle.

Fill the box with socks, crumpled newspaper, or similar material. Now hide several treats between the socks and the newspaper so that your pet cannot see them directly.

Place the box in front of your dog and instruct him to search. He will now follow the smell of the treats and dig in the box with his nose to find them. This brain game is really easy to prepare and most dogs like it very much.

Game No. 3: Rotating Rollers

For this game, you need a few cardboard rolls, string, tape, scissors, and treats. First, fold all the rolls on one side so that nothing can fall out. Tape the end of the roll so that it stays in place.

In the next step, use scissors to poke a small hole in both sides of each roll. Now thread all the rolls on the string. Tie the string at the height of your dog's head (for example between two table legs). The open side of the rolls should point upwards.

Put a treat in each roll. Your dog must now try to nudge the rolls with his nose or paw so that they turn over and the reward falls to the floor. . If he doesn't understand the game at first, turn the reels yourself or point to them. This way, your dog understands that he has to move them to get the treat.

3 Ideas for Outdoor Thinking Games

Triangle exercise

If your normal walks are too one-sided for you and your faithful companion, incorporate a nice brain game every now and then! This way, you're guaranteed to have more fun on your outings together, and your sweetheart will also be mentally exhausted by the time you return home.

Game No. 1: Search for Clues

For this game, you need your dog's favorite treats. Be sure to do this only in a meadow you know or that you have thoroughly searched in advance This way, you protect your treasure from dangerous objects and garbage that is toxic for him.

Drag a good smelling treat across the floor. In the beginning, put a piece of treat on the sniffing trail after every meter. This way your dog will have a little reward during the search. Your dog's favorite treat should be at the end of the trail. Rejoice exuberantly with him when he reaches this one. Rejoice exuberantly with him when he reaches this one. This shows him that he did it right.

Start with 5-6 m for the first few attempts. The concentrated sniffing is very exhausting for your dog’s mind. The concentrated sniffing is very exhausting for your dog’s mind.

Game No. 2: Forest Search Game

This brain game is ideal if you are going for a walk in the forest. Take treats and your dog's favorite toy with you and make the forest your playground .

Put your four-legged friend down and let him watch you hide his toys and some treats. You can use logs, moss, and twigs, among other things. Once you've set up a few hiding places, send your dog off to find the treats.

Additionally, praise him with words when he has found something you have hidden. He needs to remember where you were and use his nose to find the treats and his toys. This mentally loads your dog.

Game No. 3: Triangle Exercise

For this game, all you need is a toy and some treats. Be sure to check the meadow you're playing in for dangerous objects beforehand to ensure safety.

Instruct your dog to sit in one corner of the mental triangle and stay there. Now place a toy or treat in the second corner of the triangle. Say "no" so your dog knows not to go there.

Now, stand in the third corner of your playing field. Call your four-legged friend to you. In doing so, he should resist the impulse to run straight to the exciting reward. When your dog comes to you, praise him verbally before getting a treat out of your pocket and giving it to him.

After that, send your dog to the corner with the toy or treat. This is his great reward for resisting the original temptation and following your command. After a few successful attempts, you can reduce the size of your triangle more and more.

When the distance to the toy/treat is smaller, your faithful friend must try harder and harder to resist the exciting corner of the triangle until you give him permission. If you are already good at this game, you can also throw the toy into the corner. The fast movement encourages play; however, your dog must withstand this and come to you first, as usual.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, even dogs can get bored. Usually they then start to look for their own occupations. But these are then often forbidden things.

Your dog needs your attention every day. How much you should play together varies from quadruped to quadruped. For some, 2-3 short games a week are enough in addition to their walks, while others want to be mentally exercised for 1-2 hours a day.

There's not much room in the apartment for big rounds of play, but there are plenty of little brain games you can do indoors. For inspiration, read our article.

Every dog likes different games. You can find out what your pelt-nose enjoys most by trying out a wide variety of games. A mixture of physical and mental activity is important for every four-legged friend.


There are many different ways to keep your dog busy. The games don't have to be complicated at all. As soon as your darling dog has to use his nose, his little head is hard at work.

Every dog needs physical and mental activity, but they are also all individuals. One dog’s favorite game may not interest the next. Be creative and test different brain games with your dog. Before long, you'll discover your new favorite game together.

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Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker, and I am a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant. With these articles, I want to help you to understand your dog better and to build an inseparable bond.

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