In last week’s installment of our Brain Games series, we described two ways to keep your dog mentally engaged via the use of interactive toys at meal time and by creating a DIY Agility course in your backyard.
Brain Game #6: Hide and Go Seek
While many dogs enjoy searching for food, some dogs much prefer searching for their favorite humans. These dogs often include breeds that are predisposed to search and rescue work, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Bloodhounds.
To begin, ask your dog to sit and stay while you find a hiding spot that your dog cannot see, such as behind a chair in another room. When you are ready, call out to your dog “come to find me!” In the beginning, you may have to call out to your dog multiple times until he or she “finds” you. However, once your dog spots you, provide copious amounts of praise so that your dog learns the gist of this game. As your dog becomes better at Hide and Go Seek you can use more difficult hiding spots while also enlisting friends or family members to join in the fun.
Brain Game #7: Walk-and-Carry
An essential component of playing brain games with your dog is making your pet feel as though he or she has a job to perform. The majority of dog breeds have evolved over hundreds of years to serve humans for hunting, protection, or herding. Therefore, the drive to work is still strong in many breeds.
One way to fulfill this natural desire is to provide your dog a job to do during a walk. For instance, you can give your dog a toy to carry, such as a ball or bone, for the duration of the excursion. As an added bonus, this technique distracts your dog from bad habits such as leash pulling or negative interactions with other animals.
If your pet is not keen on carrying an item in his or her mouth, you can use specially designed canine saddle bags that slip over your dog’s back. Saddlebags are perfect for carrying items like water bottles or maps during long hikes.
Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified health care from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.