Lots of dog moms and dads get that keeping their dog’s brain busy is a big deal. That’s why they search for toys that can give their furry friends the mental workout they need. Luckily, there are loads of great choices out there. Here are some stimulating dog toys that can give your dog’s brain good exercise.
1. Dog food toys
Dogs and their owners love food puzzles like kong or toppl. These toys are a hit because you can stuff them with kibble or treats, and then let your dog roll them around to get the goodies out. For an extra challenge, try filling the toy with wet food or liver paste, and pop it in the freezer for a few hours before handing it over to your dog.
This way, the fun lasts longer, and your dog has to put in more effort to get the food out. Just keep an eye on your pup while they play with the food puzzle—while they can handle some chewing, it’s important to make sure they don’t munch on the toy itself.
2. Treat-Dispensing fun toys
There are loads of choices out there, but all treat-dispensing toys share a common idea—your dog needs to nudge the toy to access the treats inside. Whether it’s a ball or a unique shape like the Kong Wobbler or Ruffwear’s Gnawt-a-Rock that bounces instead of rolls, these toys add an extra layer of excitement.
Some dispense treats effortlessly, while others pose more of a challenge for your dog. Begin with an easy version to help your pup grasp the concept. Just be prepared to lend a hand when your dog’s treat ball ends up under the couch—it might happen more than once!
3. Mind games for dogs
Doggy puzzles, like the ones by Nina Ottosson, have gained popularity because they take your pup’s brain workout to the next level. Just nudging the toy won’t cut it here.
Instead, your dog needs to figure out a strategy to reach the tasty treats. These puzzles come in different difficulty levels. The easy ones guide your dog to the treats by pushing a part of the puzzle or pulling out a brick. As the levels get trickier, your dog might have to push a brick, turn a little plate, and then push yet another brick to unlock the reward.
Puzzle toys offer an excellent mental challenge for your dog. Just be sure to pick the right puzzle to start with to keep motivation and success levels high. Once your dog breezes through one puzzle, it’s time to step up to a more challenging one.
4. Retractable dog chase toy
For an exciting twist, consider a retractable dog chase toy. This interactive gadget keeps your dog on their toes, providing mental stimulation through engaging chase and catch games. The retractable feature adds unpredictability, making it a thrilling and mentally stimulating experience for your furry friend.
5. DIY easy brain games for dog
No need to spend big bucks—give your dog’s mind a great workout with stuff you already have at home. Grab some cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls, an empty egg carton, or a few towels, and you’re all set.
Check this YouTube video for more simple and budget-friendly mental workout ideas. You’ll surely find a game that your dog will love.
Other ways to mentally stimulate your dog
In addition to the stimulating dog toys mentioned earlier, there are more ways to keep your furry friend’s mind active. Try out these fun and easy activities to give your dog the mental workout they need:
Let your dog enjoy sniffing during walks
Taking a stroll is a highlight of your dog’s day. To add extra mental fun, let them pause and sniff around. While walking is excellent exercise, for dogs, it’s also about discovering new scents. Even if you’ve walked down your street countless times, there are always fresh and exciting smells for your dog to explore every day.
If you prefer more control during walks, you can set aside specific areas or times for free sniffing. Teach your dog a cue like “go sniff” and allow them some time to explore. You’ll be surprised at how much more tired dogs are after a walk that includes exploration and sensory enjoyment (sniffing) rather than just walking in a straight line.
Playing tug-of-war with your dog
Having a fun tug or fetch game is a great way to play and give your dog’s mind a workout. These games are not only enjoyable but also help you and your dog become closer. Tug is my favorite because it’s good exercise, lots of fun, and helps our dogs learn to control themselves.
How do you give more mental stimulation to your dog?
How do you keep your dog mentally active? Is it through leisurely walks that allow them to sniff and explore? Perhaps engaging in a spirited game of tug of war with your dog is your go-to. Do you use stimulating dog toys for mealtime excitement?
Have we overlooked any of your preferred brain games for dogs? Share your favorite ways to give your furry friend a mental workout!