Top 10 Workouts For Your Dog’s Brain

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington

While a daily walk is essential to give your dog his fill of physical exercise, mental exercise is just as important. This is especially true for highly intelligent breeds like the Standard Poodle, the Border Collie, and the German Shepherd Dog. If you don’t give your dog enough mental stimulation, he will be more likely to become bored and develop problem behaviors like chewing or digging. If you’re looking to get your dog thinking, we have a few brain-teasing exercises to try. (Photo credit: underworld1/

Training: You can teach old dog new tricks – in fact, training is recommended for dogs of all ages. Teaching your dog new tricks is a great form of mental stimulation and it will also help you strengthen your bond with your dog. If you are trying to teach your pooch a complicated trick, work on it in stages over the course of a few days or weeks – this alone will provide excellent mental stimulation for your dog. (Photo credit: Ankevanwyk/

Interactive Games: Have you ever heard of a dog board game? These board games are usually fairly simple, often consisting of a group of pegs that you hide treats under for your dog to find. Another type of board game involves a piece of plastic that the dog has to rotate to find the treat. Nina Ottosson offers a range of interactive games that vary the degrees of difficulty.

Puzzle Toys: If you want to make sure your dog gets some mental stimulation while you aren’t home to play with him, consider a puzzle toy. Kong toys are a great option because they incorporate treats to encourage your dog to figure out how to get it out. We also like The Odin, a Kickstarter campaign started by Up Dog Toys that’s been funded. It looks cool and it gets your dog to use his head!

Going on a Trip: It may seem simple, but taking your dog with you on a trip to the grocery store or as you run other errands is a great form of mental stimulation. Your dog gets to see and experience new things on the trip which will provide great mental stimulation. This will also help you and your dog to bond as you spend more time together. (Photo credit: Gordo25/

Meeting New Friends: Taking your dog to the dog park or simply going on a walk in a busy area will provide a great deal of stimulation. Whether human or animal, dogs love to meet new faces and they’ll enjoy taking in the smells of their new friend or a new environment. (Photo credit: rob_banks/

Hide and Seek: Ready or not, here I come! Playing a game of hide and seek with your dog is a great way to keep him mentally stimulated. Start by asking your dog to sit and stay then go find a hiding place somewhere in the house. When you are ready, call for your dog to come and wait for him to find you – praise and reward him when he does. (Photo credit: Willee Cole/

Rawhide/Raw Bones: Rawhide and raw bones provide a great deal of stimulation for dogs and they can also help to keep their teeth clean. Keep in mind, however, that you should always supervise your dog when he is chewing on a bone because it may break off into sharp edges or small pieces your dog could choke on. (Photo credit: V Morfield/

Retrieval Games: Playing a game of fetch provides physical and mental stimulation for your dog. Some dogs love to play with a tennis ball while others might prefer a Frisbee. To ensure that your dog doesn’t get bored with the game, try alternating between different games and change the direction you toss the item with each throw. (Photo credit: dmussman/

Play Date: If you have a friend or neighbor with a dog, consider setting up a doggie play date. Give the two dogs some time to play outdoors in the backyard or take them to a park where they can explore the sights, sounds and smells together. (Photo credit: Gdansk/

Dog Sports: Training your dog for dog sports like flyball, obedience, or agility is a great way to increase his mental stimulation. Not only are dog sports fun for your dog, but they can be a great bonding experience as well! (Photo credit: herreid/

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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