Did you know dogs are one of the smartest animals on the earth? Dogs are capable of learning more than a hundred new words, doing math problems, and even learning what others may be thinking about. Some dog breeds are even more intelligent than the average dog. Take the wonderful Border Collie as an example. Collies are world-known for being one of the most intelligent dogs in existence.
Although your puppy is young and impressionable, they still have a high level of intelligence, which will continue growing over the years. The more you play with your furry friend, the more their intelligence will grow.
If you want to help make your puppy smarter, your best bet is puzzle and brain training games. Puzzle and brain games encourage your fur-baby to use its brain power. It also stimulates them mentally, teaching them how to solve problems fast.
Here are 5 puzzle and brain training games to keep your puppy busy!
The Cup Game
The cup game is a simple children’s game that forces you to pay close attention. During the game, the game’s leader places an object, like a paperclip or shell, under a cup and moves it around with other cups several times. After the cups are rotated, you need to pick the cup that has the object. The game can be tricky if you aren’t paying attention. What helps is keeping your eyes on the cup with the object the entire time it’s being moved. Because this game is so simple, your puppy can definitely join in! Just make sure to switch up some of the rules to the following steps.
- Use a doggy treat or toy as an object. Puppies love receiving rewards for their efforts so it works to use something they love to have.
- Grab 2 or 3 cups. Place the doggy treat or toy under it, and let your fur-baby sniff and watch you.
- Let your furry friend have the treat first. Start off the game by letting your puppy win a few times. Don’t move the cups; just lift the one with the object so that they grab it. This helps your puppy understand the rules of the game.
- Switch the cups around a few times. Try moving the cups around one or two times while observing your puppy’s behavior.
- Wait until your puppy picks a cup. If they choose the right cup, give your puppy the treat or toy. If not, lift the cup, let them sniff the treat, and try again for another round.
Your puppy will probably get the hang of the game after a few rounds. Make the game challenging by adding more cups and getting creative with their positions.
Toy Name Game
Most puppies learn new commands and tricks through repetition. Remember that our doggies don’t understand human speech so you’ll need to repeat a word or trick several times until your puppy gets the hint!
Training should be fun and consistent. Otherwise, your puppy (and possibly you) will get bored easily. Help your little buddy learn new words with the following:
- Give your puppy’s toy a name that’s easy to say and recognize.
- Say the toy’s name out loud a few times with your puppy listening.
- Offer your fur-baby the toy as you say its name.
- Give your furry friend a delicious treat if they listen.
- Repeat the last 4 steps about 20 times either during a session or throughout the day.
- When you’ve repeated the first 4 steps for a while, it’s time to test your puppy’s knowledge! Place the toy next to another toy.
- Say the name of the toy out loud. If your furry friend grabs the right toy, let them have a treat or praise. If not, do not give them anything and repeat the first 4 steps again.
- Once your puppy grabs the right toy, pick another favorite toy and repeat the first 4 steps all over again.
Playing the toy name game teaches your furry friend to recognize their toy’s names, even if they can’t actually say it themselves!
Hide and Seek
Regardless of where you’re from, you’ve likely played hide and seek at some point during your childhood. Hide and seek is a simple but classic game that puts your furry friends’ physical and mental skills to the test. Fortunately, playing hide and seek with your puppy is just as fun as it is with other people. If your puppy is still learning basic commands like stay or sit, have a friend distract your little buddy to give you time to hide.
Otherwise, you can play the game this way:
- Command your puppy to sit or stay.
- Hide. Make sure to pick a spot that’s easy for your puppy to find.
- Call out your puppy’s name.
- Be still and quiet while your puppy searches for you.
- When they find you, be sure to pepper your little buddy with kisses and give them a treat.
Hide and seek is a great physical and mental exercise for your fur-baby. Along with using their natural instincts, they’re also using all of their brainpower to track you.
Puzzles are a great stimulus for your puppy’s mental health. All dog puzzles share one thing in common: your puppy must use their little noggin to get their favorite treat inside of them.
The best puzzle toy we recommend is Kong toys, which force your fur-baby to figure out how to get their treats inside. Kong toys and puzzle games help de-stress your puppy and stimulate them mentally. You can find the best puzzle games and toys either online or in-store.
Maybe your puppy isn’t impressed with puzzle toys or hide-and-seek games. If so, your puppy could enjoy a good game of scavenger hunt. Just like hide and seek, a scavenger hunt pushes your fur-baby to use their natural animal instincts, including sniffing and tracking. To play a game of scavenger hunt, follow the next steps carefully:
- Put a few yummy treats in front of your puppy. Command them to sit or stay so that they don’t bite at the treat or paw at you for it.
- Hide the treat in a secret location that’s easy for your puppy to find.
- Practice this process a few times.
- Make the game harder by putting the treats in harder locations like under a rug or the corner of a table.
- Repeat the scavenger hunt several times, changing the locations of the treats during each game.
Puppies have a better sense of smell than we do but your fur-baby may not use it immediately. That’s why we recommend repeating the first two steps several times so that your furry friend gets the hang of it.
Don’t forget to make the game harder as soon as your puppy learns the game. Your puppy should learn how to use their sense of smell during a scavenger hunt. By making the game harder with each session, you help your puppy utilize their instincts to the fullest.
Brain training and puzzle games are the perfect distraction for your furry friend. Along with keeping your fur-baby busy, they also teach your pup good life lessons they’ll need in adulthood. You may notice your puppy becoming more confident, especially after every game. Continue challenging your puppy with each toy and game so that they can have a fun time with you all the time!
Check out our blog, 5 Common Puppy Playing Behavior for more ideas on your puppy’s playtime habits.