The Best Brain Games for Dogs to Keep Your Pup Busy and Happy

Just like humans, dogs need to keep their minds active or they may fall prey to destructive behavior. If you’re out for long periods of time and your pet is alone, this is when they might start chewing your favorite pair of slippers or peeing in the corner behind the plant. Dogs are very active pets and if you’re going to leave them in an apartment or home for longer than two to three hours, you should look into fun brain games for dogs to keep them busy and happy. Otherwise, they might start developing signs of depression or excessive barking. And a happy pet is a well behaved pet, so check out these games, toys, and treats and find the best brain games for your best friend.


1. Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball

The treat ball is a popular brain game for dogs because it keeps your dog engaged and wanting the treats so they won’t give up after a few seconds. This is a great toy to give your dog if you’re going to be out for an hour or so and want to keep them occupied. The IQ treat ball by Pet Zone is made of a hard plastic shell and has various openings for the treats to fall out of, keeping your dog on the move as the ball rolls away. Put your pet’s favorite small treat inside and watch them play the day away.

Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball

Buy: Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball $11.95


2. Outward Hound Smart Orange Interactive Treat Puzzle

Outward Hound is one of our favorite pet brands as they always have great products and innovative designs made with good materials, and this interactive treat puzzle is a brain puzzle for the best of dogs. It’ll keep your pet occupied and busy while they try to dispense the treats, which is a search-and-sniff-style game with plastic coverings that can be opened to release the treat. This dog toy will foster positive habits, curbing destructive behavior that befalls a lot of lonely, bored pets.

Outward Hound Smart Orange Interactive Treat Puzzle

Buy: Outward Hound Smart Orange Interactive Treat Puzzle $14.32


3. Outward Hound Squeaky Plush Squirrel Hide-A-Toy

A classic favorite of many pet owners, the squirrel hide-a-toy is a great hide-and-seek brain game for dogs. You can hide the plush squirrels in five separate holes, dragging them out or shoving them in deeper if you have a more ambitious pet. This is a great toy for keeping your dog’s mind activated and happy.

Outward Hound Squeaky Plush Squirrel Hide-A-Toy

Buy: Outward Hound Squeaky Plush Squirrel Hide-A-Toy $19.99


4. LESES Dog Puzzle

This dog puzzle is in the form of a treat or food dispensary system with a rotating plate. Hide your pet’s treats inside the colored balls and see if they can figure out how to open one or all of them. Dogs love to be occupied so this brain game for dogs is a great way to keep them happy and interested, especially if it’s their favorite dog treat they’re trying to get after.

LESES Dog Puzzle

Buy: LESES Dog Puzzle $18.99


5. Tug-O-War Toy for Aggressive Chewers

This is a solo tug-o-war toy for any avid chewer or hyper dog. Keep them occupied when they’re alone to avoid destructive behavior with this chew toy that is attached to a rope and filled with treats. They’ll keep coming back to it again and again for the chewy texture, the tension from the rope and the treats. Giving a tug-o-war toy to an active dog is a great way to keep them happy and engaged on one object that you’ve deemed okay to chew to death — something a lot of dogs would love to do while alone in a home. Test out this chew toy if you have an active chewer in your life.

Tug-O-War Toy for Aggressive Chewers

Buy: Tug-O-War Toy for Aggressive Chewers $24.98


6. Kong Chew Toy

Kong is a classic chew toy that can be filled with treats or peanut butter that your dog can work hard to remove. The Kong toy comes in a variety of sizes and colors and is made from a tough rubber that will last your dog a very long time. Keep your dog occupied by filling it with their favorite treat; it’ll drive them wild when they try to remove it.

Kong Chew Toy

Buy: Kong Chew Toy $10.99


7. Full Moon Organic Training Treats

These organic treats are an excellent small treat to place under your cup for the Shell Game listed below. Full Moon is an all-natural treat company with human-grade ingredients. Each treat is only 3 calories and smoked in hickory to enhance your dog’s pleasure. These are all-natural treats, which means no corn or other additives or preservatives, just organic chicken, flaxseed and paprika.

Full Moon Organic Training Treats

Buy: Full Moon Organic Training Treats $5.99


8. Put Your Toys Away Game

Who wants to clean up their toys? Well, it’s actually a very energized brain game for your dog that will help them with obeying commands and help you in cleaning up the toys. To play, simply scatter your dog’s toys around the room (unless they already are!) and then direct your dog to fetch, pick up and put away. This might take some time for your dog to get used to and may require additional training with identifying tasks such as “put away” versus “bring.” Once your dog has put away all their toys, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Remember, dogs enjoy having a job, just like people.

brain games for dogs

9. The Toy Name Game

A great way to activate your dog’s brain is through following commands during a task, and having them retrieve a specifically named toy is an excellent way to do just that. If you don’t already have a name for each of your dogs toys, make one and then have your dog learn the names. Once your dog has caught on to the newly named toys, (which may take awhile, depending on your amount of practice) scatter the toys around the house and tell your dog to fetch them one by one by calling out the name of the toy. This is a brain game for dogs that will engage your pooch to the fullest by working on their commands, retrieval skills and their ability to complete a task.

dog carrying Kong toy

10. The Shell Game

Maybe one of the most popular brain games for dogs and people alike is the shell game. For a refresher, all you need to do is hide an object or treat beneath a cup and then shuffle all cups until your player loses track. Then, ask them (in this case, your dog) to pick which cup he or she thinks is hiding the treat!

To Play:

  • Grab three cups and your dog’s favorite (and maybe smelliest) treat
  • Have your pet watch as you put the treat beneath one cup
  • Shuffle the cups around quickly
  • Pause, then encourage your dog to find the treat!

The Shell game is great for engagement and keeping your pup occupied and interested. It’s also a great way to reward them for a job well done. Watch the video below to check out a dog playing the game.


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