Brain Training For Dogs – 10 Fun and Effective Training Games to Make Your Dog Smarter


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Brain training for dogs can help improve your dog’s behavior and also make them smarter. Every dog owner always looks for a better and more effective way to train their dog to become better.  This is why I have made this post to outline some fun and effective games you can apply to improve your dog’s behavior


Some of the advantages of brain training your dog are that it helps develop more skills in the dog – while improving your relationship with the dog, building your dog’s confidence, and lowering their anxiety. It also challenges your dog to become smarter and behave properly – there will be no more unnecessary jumping all over you as well. 


Brain training your dog can be fun if you apply these fun dog training games and use the interactive dog toys that will be mentioned in this post. If you want to make your dog even smarter, then you should check out this complete brain training for dogs guide

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1. Treasure Hunt – Find the Treat

If you want your dog to be able to track down scents, then you should utilize this strategy in training your dog. The treasure hunt game is a fun and effective game, especially for dogs who love tracking down scents. 

To start this brain training for a dog’s game, you need to take it slow if it’s your first time with your dog. Start with a simple model to get your dog’s attention and encourage his participation in the game. 


How to Play the Treasure Hunt with Your Dog.

  • Begin by telling your dog to sit.
  • Then go hide the treat or the favorite toy somewhere obvious.
  • After hiding the treasure, instruct your dog to go look for it ( do this by using the release cue).
  • Once your dog finds the treasure, reward him with praises and treats. 
  • As your dog masters the simple version, then take it a step further by hiding the treasure in a more difficult location.
  • See if he is able to track and locate the treasure with ease. 
  • If he does, continue rewarding him with more praise and treats. (dogs like praises and treats)
  • Once he passes this stage, then goes more advanced by hiding the treasure where it is mixed with other scents. You can do more by having someone or you hide while your dog comes in search. ( You can only go to this level if your dog has mastered the beginner stages).
  • Keep doing this until the dog masters the treasure hunt game. 

For more effective brain training for dogs, check out this guide


2. Teach Your Dog to Make Eye Contact

Do you know dogs can keep eye contact? Teaching your dog some simple eye contact routines will help you communicate with your dog in some basic ways. Aside from getting your dog’s attention whenever he is distracted with the eye contact method,  it will also help trigger the release of oxytocin in you as well as in your dog.


How to Achieve This brain training for dogs:

To teach your dog how to give you eye contact do the following. 

  • Put up a treat close to your forehead, or close to your eye.
  • Then ask your dog to look up toward the treat
  • Once that is achieved, slowly take the treat away from your forehead.
  • Then use a hand signal plus a verbal command to ask your dog to look at you.
  • Continue this routine for days and your dog will gradually learn to do eye contact with you. You can use this with your dog whenever he is distracted. 
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3. Dog Classic Food Puzzle


Brain trainig for dogs - Dog Classic Food Puzzle

Utilizing the dog classic food puzzle comes with lots of benefits. One of which includes portioning your dog’s meal – this ensures that your dog doesn’t eat all in one meal time (This really helps in digestion). Also, portioning your dog’s meal helps strengthen your dog’s cognitive ability. 

To begin with, here is our recommended dog classic food puzzle – The Nina Ottosson Food Puzzle. This dog classic food puzzle comes with multiple levels to keep your dog’s interest especially when he begins to get smarter with the food puzzle. 

Most dog classic food puzzles come with a small compartment that lets you put the dog’s food in bits. This then forces your dog to scout for their food with their noses and when they find the food, they will also have to use their paws to open the compartments before they can eat. This will greatly teach your dog to be independent and enable them to think and fend for themselves through the food puzzle. 

Depending on the type of dog you have, you can use a different type of food puzzle. If you have a very smart and energetic dog, you can use the Dogs Food Puzzle Feeder Toys for IQ Training & Mental Enrichment. However, if you have a dog that’s easily frustrated then you should make use of the Paw Wooly Snuffle Mat. This mat allows your dog to scout the carpet’s shag for its food. You should know that it’s not very challenging and may not improve your dog’s IQ much. 


Check out this brain training for dogs for a more effective dog training guide


4. Create an Indoor Dig Pit for your Dog

Dogs love having fun while they dig, but these days, they are not provided with enough opportunities to do so. 

If you have a dog and you discover that your dog loves to dig, you can engage your dog with the digging activity by creating a safe spot for the dog to engage in this instinctual behavior. It will help address the digging urge in your dog and also improve his/her brain as they work out. 


How to Achieve This

  • You can achieve this by creating an artificial dig pit for your dog in a corner around your house. 
  • use a plastic container with good depth, you can also make use of a box in this case. 
  • Fill up the container with some dog-safe materials like cardboard paper plus towel rolls and bathroom tissue rolls, or rags cut into various small pieces. 
  • Ensure the materials are something your dog won’t want to eat. 
  • Add some portion of your dog’s meal inside the container and mix it up with the filling material.
  • You can also hide some dog toys like balls inside the filler if your dog loves toys. 
  • Introduce the dog to the corner and watch how he will try to uncover those hidden materials. 
  • You can also do a play break with your dog when they uncover those hidden treats and a reward. 


5. Play The Which Hand Game


Brain trainig for dogs - Which Hand Game

This is another great brain training for dogs game you can try right away. This game is a great game that really gets your dog’s attention and it is very easy to play – all you need to play this game is some treats in your hand.  


How to Play the Which and Game with Your Dog:

  • Hold some treats in your hand. 
  • Ask your dog to sit in a position.
  • Then let your dog watch you as you try to switch and place the treat in one of your hands
  • Close both hands facing a downward position and extend both hands toward your dog
  • Then ask your dog “Which Hand?”
  • Allow your dog to identify the correct hand, and if he gets it right, reward them with some treats and also praise them
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In some cases, it may take some time for your dog to catch up on the game – don’t worry about this, just be patient with the dog. 

Some dogs usually get super excited over the treats in your hands and may start pawing at both of your hands. At this stage, you only reward them when tough or guess the correct hand – doing this will teach them to be patient and focused. 

On the other hand, if your dog refuses to be polite during the game, then you should try working on their impulse control as well. 


6. Using the Snuffle Mat


Another way to engage your dog and enhance his brain is by using the snuffle mat. The snuffle mat is a perfect companion for any curious dog because it keeps them engaged at all times. 

It is a large interactive nose work mat that provides your dog with hours of mental stimulation and fun. 


How to Use the Snuffle Mat with your Dog

  • When you get the snuffle mat, do not go all out with it the first time.
  • Try to put about 5 treats in an easy-to-spot location on the mat
  • Then monitor your dog as they learn how to sniff out its treats on the mat.
  • Once the dog starts pulling out the snuffle mat rather than looking for the treat, you can ask him/her to sit. Or use the “Leave it Command”
  • When your dog starts getting his food with ease on the loose spots, you can take it a step further.

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7. Teach Your Dog to Spin


Another great brain training for dogs game you can teach your dog is how to spin. Dog spinning and other trick training are great fun games that help your dog improve their agility and become smarter.

Moreso, “Dog Spin” is a very cute and easy trick to teach plus it doesn’t take your pups long to master it. 


How to Achieve the Dog Spin

  • First, place a small treat in front of your dog’s nose and make sure his four paws are on the ground. – He should not have to jump up to smell it. 
  • While still holding the treat, make an imaginary circle in the air above your dog’s nose and ensure your dog follows the treat slowly as you circle it.
  • Once your dog has completed the circle, then give him the goody.
  • If your dog is reluctant in following the treat, then you can give him some portion mid-way through and then give him the rest upon completion. 
  • You can repeat the process but in a quicker motion after every completion.


If your dog moves around the circle happily, you can make the circle gesture more fun and subtle with every repetition while keeping the treat in your pocket, and do not forget to always reward your dog after every attempt.

You should continue this process until you can twirl a single finger in the air above your dog’s head (like you are stirring a drink) and see if your dog responds with an spn. 

As your dog continues to respond to the subtle hand signal, you can utilize cues such as “Spin” Say this word before making the finger gesture in the air. 

By now, your dog should be able to respond when you say the word “Spin”


8. Teach Your Dog to Solve Problem

Problem-solving for dogs should be part of your brain training for dogs’ routine. 

Well, in the brain training for dogs guide, there are lots of great techniques that you can apply to develop your dog’s intelligence – these techniques will help eliminate bad behavior rapidly in your dog and create loving and obedient pets.

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Teaching your dog to solve problems will help improve his brain, especially in the areas of puzzle-solving. And also help your dog learn how to figure out ways of pulling a string to get a treat. 


How to Achieve This. 

  • Get your dog’s treat and tie a small rope to it
  • Hide it under a piece of furniture or somewhere far enough to make it impossible for their mouth or paw to reach.
  • Then encourage your dog to go investigate the treat 
  • Monitor how long it takes him to tug on the string and retrieve the treat. 
  • You can repeat this process and on each successful completion, praise your dog and give him a treat.

When your dogs are able to solve problems like this, it boosts their confidence as well as yours. 

For great development skills in your dog, you need to apply patience and good reasoning skill. 


9. The Red Light, Green Light Game

Another great and fun brain training game for dogs is the red light, green light game. It is a perfect game, especially for dogs that get overly excited while playing. This game will help them learn how to control their impulse. 

While most people know the “Red Light, Green Light” game some also played it during childhood. It is simply a game of starting and stopping, racing and freezing. When playing this game with your dog, you may need to get a teaser wand toy (you can get this from Amazon) that can help implement the action you want them to do.


How to Play The Red Light, Green Light Game

  • To do this, start by saying the word “green light!” 
  • Next, lure your dog into chasing a teaser toy in a circular motion.
  • The wands come with a fluffy tail that the dog chase as you move it in a circular motion, this represents hunting. 
  • Allow your dog to chase the wand toy for a few minutes, following his instincts. 
  • Pull the toy up while holding the tail in your hand,- to stop the play; say “red light”.
    Ensure your dog sits and waits after saying “red light”. 
  • To start all over, say the word “green light” again.
  • You can repeat the process and keep it as part of your dog’s daily or weekly routine. 


This game will help your dog keep the focus on you, especially when he/she is playing in a dog park or other places where he easily gets overexcited.


10. Teach Your Dog New Tricks

I know this may not be as easy as it sounds, but trust me, teaching your dog new tricks comes with lots of advantages and is also very rewarding for both you and your dog. 

For starters, you may need to practice this skill over time and come up with great and fun tricks to teach your dog. 

Teaching your dog new tricks helps in developing and improving your dog’s brain. If you are stuck on where to start, you can start with the Under the Bridge trick. 


How to Achieve This

  • You can start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent upward.
  • Then use a treat or your dog’s favorite toy to lure him to go under the bridge – which in this case is your leg. 
  • Once your dog achieves this task, reward him with a treat. 

When brain training your dog, both mental and physical exercise is very important if you want your dog to have an all-around brain development. This will eventually make your dog smarter and more agile. 

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Final Note. 

Good brain training for dogs starts with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Both have an important role to play if you want to have a smart fun-loving and obedient dog. 

If you want your pups to develop well and become smart, you need to watch what you feed them. Always feed them premium dog food that contains real meat as its primary ingredient since it contributes to your dog’s overall wellness. Also, ensure there are no fillers or additives in your dog food. 

Also, puzzle toys for dogs are great for keeping your dog busy and generally help in boosting their brains – this will also keep them busy whenever you don’t have time to play with them. 

Another great brain training for dogs you can apply is to support your dog’s brain health with veterinarian-formulated supplements – these should be supplements that use natural ingredients to promote cognitive wellness. 

Finally, when brain training your dog, you will need a lot of practice time, patience, and skills in order to develop a smart and active loving dog. But you don’t need to work on this journey alone. 

Seeking help from experts will greatly reduce the workload and speed up a lot of processes. 

You can check out this program on Developing your Dog’s “Hidden Intelligence” To eliminate bad behavior and Create the obedient, well-behaved pet of your dreams


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