One of the most important things to do as a dog owner is to engage your dog’s mind. Playing challenging games with your dog will make him brighter and happier and it can help you strengthen your relationship and level of communication with your pooch.
Here are some ideas for challenging games to play with your pup, and toys that will capture his interest and engage his mind for hours on end:
Play “Treasure Hunt”
This one is fun to watch, as well as fun for your pup to play! You will have to spend a little time teaching him how to play this game, but once he learns, there are endless variations you can make.
Start by hiding a treat in a very obvious place. It should be a treat and not a toy because your dog will use his sense of smell to find it. Guide your dog to retrieve the treat you just hid, and congratulate him when he gets it. Then, hide the treat in a slightly harder-to-find, less predictable spot. Keep making this game more and more challenging. You can also switch it up by using boxes or other containers to hide the treat.
Play “New Trick”
This game uses clicker training, so if you’re used to using a clicker to cue behaviors in your dog, it will be easy to start. It’s simple and encourages creativity and independent thinking. Reward your pup with clicks and treats when he does something new, and ignore repeat behaviors. For example, if he’s already rolled over during a session, just tell him, in a bored voice, “You already did that.” He’ll learn quickly that you’re looking for him to do something new.
Interesting dog toys usually have some unusual component to keep your dog’s attention. Interesting sounds, movements, and contents (when a dog toy is filled with something) can stimulate your dog.
The Busy Buddy is especially good if your dog is a big time chewer. With this orb-like toy, which can be filled with kibble, you can occupy your pup for hours. This toy is challenging because your dog has to interact with it in order for food to come out of it.
Toys that talk can also be a great way to challenge, and puzzle, your pooch. These are more delicate, so not so great if your dog is really into chewing on stuff.
The Orka Chew is a really cool one because it’s multifaceted–fascinating even to humans! The Orka Chew bounces and has multiple arms for your dog to play with, and is durable enough to be a chew toy. Because of its structure, this toy bounces in unpredictable ways, potentially providing hours of entertainment!
Finally, Nina Ottosson makes some really great, and challenging, puzzle toys. There are many different styles and types of doggie puzzle made by this brand, so you’ll want to browse the website to find the one you find the coolest. These puzzle toys are great because your dog really has to focus on them. They can also teach obedience because your dog will have to wait until told to start working out a puzzle.