5 Puzzle and Brain Training Games For Your Puppy

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Dogs are one of the smartest creatures on the planet. They’re able to learn more than a hundred new words, do math problems, and even understand what you or another dog may be thinking about. Some dogs are smarter than others—Border Collies, for instance, are reputed to be one the most intelligent dog breeds in […]

Dogs are one of the smartest creatures on the planet. They’re able to learn more than a hundred new words, do math problems, and even understand what you or another dog may be thinking about. Some dogs are smarter than others—Border Collies, for instance, are reputed to be one the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. Despite their young age, your puppy also possesses a high level of intelligence, which will grow and develop over time. They’ll learn quickly the more you interact and play with them.

However, if you want to test out your fur-baby’s intelligence (or just reinforce it!), puzzle and brain training games are your best bet. Puzzle and brain games force your puppy to use their brain to the fullest. It gives them the opportunity to stimulate their brain juices so that they learn how to solve problems and learn new tricks faster.

Here are 5 puzzle and brain training games that help make your puppy smarter!

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. 

  1. 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.
  1. Grab 2 or 3 cups. Place the doggy treat or toy under it, and let your fur-baby sniff and watch you.
  1. 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. 
  1. Switch the cups around a few times. Try moving the cups around one or two times while observing your puppy’s behavior. 
  1. 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

Did you know that dogs can learn an average of 165 words? Most dogs learn new tricks, commands, and words through repetitive training. Training sessions need to be engaging and consistent to be effective. To help your puppy learn new words, try the following steps for this game:

  1. Give your puppy’s favorite toy a name they’ll be likely to recognize
  2. Say the toy’s name a few times while your puppy is watching. 
  3. Give your puppy the toy while saying its name.
  4. Let your fur-baby have a yummy treat if they pay attention,
  5. Repeat this process several times (20 times should be enough). You can also repeat this throughout the day. Your puppy will associate their toy with the given name.
  6. Once you’ve repeated this process for a while, place the toy next to another object like another toy.
  7. Say the name of the toy. If your puppy grabs the right toy, give them a treat or praise. If not, do not give them anything and repeat again. 
  8. Once your puppy associates the toy with a name, choose another toy and repeat the process all over again.

Playing this game will teach your puppy to name their toys, even if they can’t verbally say it out loud. By the end of the game, your puppy will know the names of all their toys!

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:

  1. Command your puppy to sit or stay.
  2. Hide. Make sure to pick a spot that’s easy for your puppy to find.
  3. Call out your puppy’s name. 
  4. Be still and quiet while your puppy searches for you.
  5. 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. 

Dog Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to stimulate your puppy’s brain. All dog puzzles come in various forms but they all share one thing in common: your puppy needs to use their little noggin to get a reward. Some examples of dog puzzles are Kong toys, which require your little buddy to figure out how to get their treats inside. Kong toys and other puzzle games relieve your puppy’s boredom and challenge them with lots of mental stimulation. Depending on the puzzle game or toy you purchase, you can keep your furry friend busy for a couple of hours. You can find the best puzzle games and toys online and in pet stores. 

Scavenger Hunt

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Hide the treat in a secret location that’s easy for your puppy to find.
  3. Practice this process a few times.
  4. Make the game harder by putting the treats in harder locations like under a rug or the corner of a table.
  5. 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 games aren’t just a way to distract your furry friend. They’re also fun teaching tools that’ll help your puppy once they reach adulthood. Your puppy may also become confident, especially after each game. Challenge your puppy with each game so that they can have a fun, bonding experience with you every time!

Check out our blog, 5 Fun Games You Can Play with Your Puppy for more ideas on puppy games!