Training a dog is an excellent way to strengthen the bond between humans and their best companions. Training a family dog might not mean what you think it means. While traditional dog training methods focus on teaching obedience commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” brain training for dogs involves engaging the animal’s cognitive abilities to improve overall behavior, self control and  problem-solving skills. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of brain training for dogs, some dog activities to try at home, and how these activities can help improve your dog’s overall well-being.

Benefits of Brain Training for Dogs

  • Improved cognitive function: Just like humans, dogs experience age-related cognitive decline as they get older. Engaging in brain activities can help keep their minds sharp and prevent cognitive decline.
  • Enhanced problem-solving skills: Brain training activities can help dogs learn how to think through problems, calm down and find solutions. This can be especially useful for dogs who tend to get anxious or destructive when left alone.
  • Increased mental self control: Too much over-stimulation can lead to behavior problems in dogs, such as destructive chewing or excessive barking. Engaging in self control brain training activities can provide much-needed skills to help prevent these types of behaviors.
  • Improved overall behavior: By teaching your dog to think and problem-solve, you’ll be helping them become more confident and well-behaved overall.

Dog Brain Activities to Try at Home

There are many brain training activities you can try at home to boost your dog’s cognitive skills and self control . Here are a few ideas to get you started from the most effective ones to the least. 

  • Self control games: Teaching your dog to perform activities slowly and calmly not only activates your dog’s brain power, but also teaches your dog to embrace and master calm energy. Calm energy is still energy and a very powerful one that most trainers don’t pay much attention to. An idea for this is to teach your dog to slowly walk up and down the stairs. Another good game is to teach your dog to walk through doors after you or enter a new space slowly and calmly and stay calm. 
  • Impulse control games: Games where your dog has to slow down and wait for a release are great for brain training because they require your dog to use their problem-solving skills to figure out how to get the treats or rewards from you. Is actually the waiting and self control that makes them tired and calmer not so much the physical activity. 
  • Obedience training: Obedience training is a great way to boost your dog’s brain power. By teaching your dog commands and getting them to follow them, you’ll be helping them to think and process information.
  • Training games: Games like hide-and-seek can be great brain training activities for dogs. These types of games require your dog to use their nose to problem-solving skills to find you or a hidden object. Be careful not to overplay these games ( 5 mins is good) since some dog breeds will go onto “tracking mode” and will get them overstimulated and a little crazy. Calm sniffing for something is different than “tracking down”  with overexcitement. You probably don’t want a police dog, you want a calm family dog. These are VERY different ways of training. 

Improving Your Dog’s Overall Well-Being

In addition to the cognitive benefits, brain training for dogs can also improve their overall well-being. By providing mental “work out” and “self control skills”, crazy or out of control energy is transformed into calm and sound energy. Remember that science tells us that energy is not either created or destroyed, it can only be transformed. 

Providing these brain training skills to your dog can help prevent boredom and reduce stress. In turn, this leads to significant improved behavior and a more harmonious relationship between you and your dog.

In conclusion, brain training for dogs is a great way to keep their minds sharp and improve their overall behavior. By providing mental self control skills and an outlet for their energy, you’ll be helping your dog live a happier and healthier life.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved  December 2022