The following is a list of games stimulate your dogs intellect.
Hide it is simple, but really challenging. Take two plastic cups and turn them over. With your dog watching, place a treat under a cup. Give your dog the cue to come turn over the cup and get the treat. Do this eight or 10 times, letting your dog really understand the game. Then alternate which cup you place the treat under. When your dog selects the correct cup, let him have the treat. If he doesn’t select the correct cup (and that will happen, even when he sees you placing the treat under the cup), show him the treat under the correct cup but don’t let him have it. Keep him watching which cup you place the treat under so he can guess the right cup. It sounds easy to us, but for many dogs, this requires some serious thinking.
If your dog masters this, it’s time to challenge him even more. Place a treat under the left cup, then slide the cups to switch places, so that the cup with the treat is now on your right. Release your dog to find the treat. If your dog selects the correct cup, give him the treat. If your dog doesn’t select the correct cup, show him the treat but don’t let him have it. Keep repeating this and see if your dog can figure out the trick. Some dogs may never quite get how the treat magically switches sides — this is a tough game using visual tracking, and not all dogs make the connection. But if your dog does, bump up the challenge even more by swapping sides randomly. See if he can use his eyes, nose and thinking skills to find the treat.
Find It is a game useful for more than just brain exercise! Have a supply of yummy treats in your hand. Toss one treat a short distance away from the dog, where the dog can see and follow it and say “find it!” When the dog gets the treat, take another treat and toss it, again using the cue “find it!” Repeat this again and again, from side to side, and you will eventually be able to say “find it!” and see your dogs nose hit the ground and start sniffing for something.
Add some fun to the game by tossing farther away, by placing a bunch of treats around where the dog didn’t see them go, always setting the dog up for a successful hunt. If you are worried about making your dog fat with all the treats, use the dogs kibble! (As a side benefit, this game can be played in the future when you need to redirect your dog away from something.)
The Muffin Tin Game
The Muffin Tin game is simple and cost effective. Take a regular muffin baking tin and place a treat/treats in the cup(s). Using tennis balls or any round toy that covers the muffin cup and let your dog figure out how to remove the obstacle and get the treat.
Puzzle Toys are interactive treat dispensing toys that are commercially manufactured and available at pet stores, on Amazon.com, and even found at thrift stores. There are so many great ones, we’ve pictured a few we like, but the options are endless. Always supervise your dog while he/she interacts with the toy. If you are crafty, check out Pinterest for lots of homemade puzzle toy ideas.