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Brain power: Games and toys to keep your dog sharp

by Kira Garrett | December 09, 2013

If you’ve ever seen a police dog follow the trail of a missing person or a mischievous pet sneak his way out of a fenced-in yard, then you know that dogs can be very clever. Dogs can learn some impressive skills, but just like humans, they need to exercise their minds in order to keep them in shape.

Dogs require both mental and physical stimulation to keep them in all around good health. If your dog has been exhibiting behavioral problems or has been acting out, it may be that he is not getting enough mental activity. Dogs that are left alone for many hours can become bored - just as you would - and may act out, taking their frustration out on your favorite pair of shoes or the new couch. Keep your pup happy and healthy with sufficient exercise of their minds as well as their bodies every day.

These are some of the best challenging games for your clever pup:

·       Puzzle toys. A plethora of interactive toys can be found in pet stores and online retails these days. They are easy to set up and dogs love them because they release a treat once the puzzle is solved. If your dog is home alone, try leaving a puzzle for him to solve while you’re away.

·       Hide and seek. One game you can play with your dog to keep him sharp is hide and seek. Have your dog sit and stay until he is told to go find an object or treat. You can either place objects around the house for your dog to find, or you can hide and have your dog find you.

·       Teach new tricks. One of the best ways to keep your best friend’s mind sharp is to teach him new tricks. With every training session, your dog will work with you to learn a new skill, whether it is sit, roll over, fetch, or ringing a bell when he has to go outside. Remember to be patient during training sessions and always use positive reinforcement.

·       Hunting decoys. Many dogs were bred to work. If you want to get physical and mental exercise all at once, try using a scented decoy for your dog to find and retrieve.

Be sure to rotate your dog’s toys and games so he can have new challenges. After solving the same puzzle a few times, the task becomes routine. Switch between tricks and games and always remember to reward him for a job well done!