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How to stimulate your dog’s intelligence through mental activation games

How to stimulate your dog’s intelligence through mental activation games
February 10, 2023 Yuup
Cane di piccola taglia appoggiato con le zampe anteriori sulle gambe di una donna seduta a gambe incrociate mentre tiene in mano una pallina di fronte al cane

Did you know that, in addition to recreational and motricity games, there are others useful to activate the intelligence of our four-legged friends? We are talking about specific mental activation games for dogs: let’s discover them together.

The benefits of brain games for dogs

Dogs are animals with a very intuitive brain, which nevertheless requires to receive stimuli to develop and to maintain cognitive functions such as memory, attention, orientation. But, what are the benefits of brain activation games for dogs?


We list some of them:


  • Improving the relationship with the owner, who becomes more and more interesting and proactive for the dog;
  • Stimulating the autonomy in facing and solving problems that may occur every day;
  • Increasing the self-control, through reasoning and reflection, and reducing impulsivity;
  • Reducing boredom, by entertaining your friend and making him happier;
  • Overcoming anxiety and stress during difficult situations and allowing him to learn to manage frustration;
  • Getting the animal mentally tired in order to induce calm and rest;
  • Allowing him to acquire skills and abilities such as the correct use of nose, mouth and paws;
  • Helping him to increase confidence and self-esteem;
  • Overcoming separation anxiety when alone at home;
  • Controlling hyperactivity and preventing hypostimulation;
  • Reactivating not very active senior dogs ​​and preventing brain aging;
  • Stimulating their natural hunter character;


It is important to keep in mind that brain games involve a great energy expenditure. As for motor activity, this type of game must have a limited time adequate to his needs, without exaggerating. For example, it can be helpful switching between physical and mental activity, always followed by a moment of calm.

Brain activation games stimulate dog's inventiveness.

Brain activation games stimulate dog’s inventiveness.

The best brain activation games for dogs

There are several games that stimulate dog’s intelligence. Apart from finding a wide range in pet stores and in online shopping websites, you could also create do-it-yourself activities with a little imagination and creativity: what’s important is to always actively stimulate the brain of our trusty lifetime companion. Let’s discover the most popular games.

It is important to remember that the game we’re offering the dog is precisely a proposal, consequently it would be appropriate not to give commands or help. Let’s trust him and let him reflect, if he won’t be able to complete the game, let’s try to start with something easier, and to raise the level step by step.



Kong is the most famous brain activation game; it’s about a rigid container inside of which you can put some food. The dog will therefore have to work hard to take it out so that he can reach his yummy reward.

Cube ball

It consists of a cube with a ball inside, the dog will have to be able to take it out. This kind of recreational activity is the perfect combination between physical movement and mental activation, but unlike the previous one, it always has to be kept away from the dog when we’re not there.


It could be defined as “board game”. In this very context the dog will learn to open the cabinet doors inside of which we previously placed tempting morsels.

This kind of activity could require a longer understanding time since it has a higher level of complexity as compared to the previous games.

Teaching him a command

It’s an alternative that mainly develops the harmony with the owner, and in this case the dog’s attention is focused on us. Teaching him simple commands such as “sit”, “down”, “stay” with a reward can be useful: for the daily handling of the dog and also for the development of cognitive functions precisely thanks to the learning activity.

Items hunt

Besides the previous one, there are other ways to make ourselves part of these moments of game of our dog’s mental activation, also useful for spending some time together. For example, the sense of smell – as we know – turns out to be the most developed sense in dogs; it would therefore be appropriate to stimulate it and to keep it trained. To help our pet, we could actually hide objects he loves or pieces of food in some points of the room: in this way he can later see them as small rewards. Through a simple command like “seek” our friend will have to find them by following his sense of smell and his instinct. Gradually, we could increase the difficulty by hiding the rewards in different rooms of the house and thus sharpen his skills.

Cane di razza beagle gioca sull'erba con un kong, un gioco per l'attivazione mentale del cane

Mix physical and mental activity with specific games.

Involving our four-legged friend in the game

If your dog has never played mental activation games before, he could be a little suspicious at first. In this case, it is important to give our furry friend the right motivation to approach this new activity, as well as the choice of a suitable place such as the house or the room where the family spends more time so that he can concentrate on it.

To overcome distrust, a decisive stimulus could be choosing his favorite food as a reward, or also trying different games until figuring out which one he likes the most.


Cane nero di grossa taglia consegna una palla da football nelle mani del padrone

Getting the dog used to the game will make recreational activities very enjoyable.

Think about it, because it’s obvious: we too need to keep our mind continuously trained to be one hundred percent just as we do it with our body through sport activities.

The same also applies to your dog. He actually needs, beyond a right nutrition and a body hygiene with the correct products, to keep his brain trained as well.


Article redacted with the consultancy of Chiara, Dog Trainer.

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