4 DIY Games to Play with Your Dog

4 DIY Games to Play with Your Dog

Why Brain Stimulation Matters

Just like us, our furry friends can get bored. Surprisingly, the most mischievous dogs often possess high intelligence. Tracing back to their ancestors, many dogs descend from working breeds, eager for tasks and roles. In our modern world, their primary job has shifted to being our loyal companions. But remember, they still relish a challenge and adore working for their treats. So, if it's a gloomy day outside or if your dog is just in need of some stimulation, explore these invigorating brain games below.      

Find It

Tap into your dog's keen sense of smell with this engaging game. Nosework is a dog's second nature and scenting games for dogs is a fun way for them to use their natural instincts. This keeps their minds calm and focused. You will be hiding treats around a room or small area of your yard. Start small, and limit the game to only one room until your dog understands how to play. Also, make sure you pick a safe place with no potential hazards such as the chance your pup could break something.  

Place your dog in his crate or another room. Pick your treats, you want something with a strong aroma that will not leave a residue behind. If needed you can place the treats on a paper towel or a small plate. Hide the treats in very obvious locations in the beginning. Also, remember where and how many treats you placed in case your dog misses some! 

Gradually, as your dog masters this game, choose better hiding spots and less smelly treats. Introduce the command “find it” and praise him every time he finds a treat. Eventually, he will understand that “find it” means he needs to start sniffing out hidden treats! 

I've shared this game with my very food-motivated Rhodesian Ridgeback for years and he’s good at it. If I want to keep him occupied for a while I’ll place treats all around the house or yard. I try to make it as hard as possible placing treats high and low. Under things and on top. He combs every nook and corner for treats!

Snuffle Ball

Treat ball for DIY games

This game is a blend of DIY craftiness and a fun stimulating activity for your dog. Grab an old t-shirt you do not mind parting with and a treat dispensing ball with holes big enough to push your finger through. Cut the t-shirt into strips, place a small treat on the strip of fabric, and roll it up. You want the roll to be a shape that will fit through the holes in the ball. Once the ball is full of the fabric strips and treats give it to your dog and let him enjoy a mix of play and problem-solving. This is one of the best stimulating crate games for dogs. 

Treasure Box

Who knew those leftover boxes could become a fun treasure hunt for your canine friend? The goal is for your dog to dig through these boxes in search of treats. While this game is fun, ensure close supervision to prevent accidental ingestion of cardboard. Also, this one gets a little messy!

Dog finding treat in box.

Save your boxes - from small to large. Make sure there is only cardboard and no other materials. You can also use the cardboard left from a used paper towel roll. The first time you do this, use a smelly treat, place it in a small box, and hand it to your dog. He will have to tear through the box to get to the treat. Once he understands the game, you can place a treat in the smallest box and then put that in another box or two. 

In my experience dogs that play this game do not go around destroying boxes. They seem to understand they don’t all have treats hiding in them. However, if you have a dog that doesn’t know boundaries and already chews up things like boxes and paper, this is not the game for you. 

Magic Cups

Challenge your dog's observation and sniffing skills with this classic game of trickery. Using three identical cups, the aim is for your dog to identify which one conceals a treat. 

To play this game take three plastic or paper cups, bowls, or lids. Whatever you choose, make sure it is lightweight and will not hurt your dog if knocked over. You just need three items that look alike and have enough clearance for a treat to hide under. While your dog is holding a sit command place the treat on the floor in a spot close enough for him to observe. Next, place one of the cups over the treat. Then place the other two cups on either side of the one containing the treat. Now let your dog approach and ask “Which one?”. As soon as his nose touches a cup raise it so that he can see whether the treat is there or not. Eventually, your dog will realize touching his nose to the cup means you will lift it. 

Once he understands the game you can raise the bar by sliding the cups around so the treat is not always located in the same spot. Your dog will either have to watch the treated cup or use his nose to sniff it out. 

This game is good for highly food-motivated dogs as it demands patience, attention, and sharp instincts to get the reward. With time, an over-excited dog will calm down while playing this game. 

Indoor Adventures and Beyond

Bored dog watching the rain.

Rain, snow, or simply a lazy day indoors – these budget-friendly, enjoyable games guarantee an active, stimulated pup. Yet, while indoor adventures offer warmth and safety, nothing beats the thrill of the outdoors for your canine friend. Be it a playful day at the dog park or a scenic hike, always prioritize your dog's safety with a reliable ID tag. Explore Noble Rhode’s personalized brass dog tags to ensure your dog's security. 

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