Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for. If your dog just barreled headfirst into a wall while you read that sentence, please give me a second chance to convince you! Dogs are capable of thinking and reasoning, but they need mental stimulation in order to develop these intelligence-based skills. So if your clumsy pooch over there could use some brain exercises, try one of these 4 games to make your dog a genius (or, at least, not a total klutz).
4 Games to Make Your Dog a Genius
#1 Hide and Seek
I’m guessing I don’t need to explain the rules of hide and seek to you. Everyone hides and one person has to go and find them all. In this case, the seeker is your dog! Since you can’t just explain the rules to your pooch, you’ll have to train them to play it. Otherwise, you’ll be waiting in that closest for a long time.
It will take a few sessions to teach your dog this game. Remember, you can’t make your dog a genius overnight. Follow the guidelines here in order to help them learn the game as quickly as possible.
This game activates your dog’s instinct to hunt. It will also get them to start reasoning and strategizing. In order to find you, they have to think about what kinds of places a human could hide. They’ll also have to consider your behavior and habits (If I were my human, where would I hide?). They’ll have tons of fun finding you. And you’ll be one step closer to make your dog a genius.
#2 The Cup Game
You’ve probably seen this game before, too. You have three cups. Underneath one, there’s a coin or some other small trinket. One person rearranges the cups a few times and the other person has to guess where the one with the coin or trinket is. This time, your dog will be the one guessing.
Here’s how to play the cup game:
- To start, put a small treat under the cup. Let your dog see which cup it is and don’t rearrange it.
- If they sniff at or touch a cup with no treat, lift the cup up to show them nothing is under there.
- When they sniff at the right cup, lift it up and let them eat the treat.
- Repeat until they immediately start going for the cup.
- Next, place a treat under one cup and rotate the cups once.
- If they choose the wrong cup, lift it to show them nothing is there.
- When they choose the right cup, lift it and give them the treat.
- Repeat this, adding more and more rotations as their skills improve.
Once they’ve got the game down, keep the treats in your pocket and hide a coin or other small trinket under the cup. Choose something that doesn’t have much of an odor to it. This makes it more challenging because your dog can’t just smell out which cup has a tasty treat in it. Give them a treat each time they select the right cup.
This game develops your dog’s concentration skills since they need to be completely focused on the cup movements to keep track of the right one. It also develops their memory and reasoning skills. It’s a great way to have fun and make your dog a genius all at once.
#3 The Name Game
Here’s a fun one that can also come in handy as an owner. Not only will it help make your dog a genius, it will also turn the dog into your personal assistant. In this game, you expand your dog’s vocabulary by teaching them specific names for different objects. Here’s how it works:
- Put 2 objects in front of them (for example, a rope and a ball). Point at each and say its name.
- Sit back. Say, “Bring ball.”
- If your dog brings the correct object, give them a treat.
- If they bring the wrong object, say “no” and put it back. Point at and repeat the names of both.
- Repeat this process until they have learned both words.
- Add a third object.
- Continue until you’ve taught them the names of all the objects you want them to learn.
- Once they’ve learned all the names, you can make the game more challenging by placing the objects in different parts of the room (or even the house) so that your dog has to go find it in order to bring it to you.
Once they’ve learned the name, all you have to do is say something like “bring remote” or “bring newspaper” and presto! Your dog will go pick it up and bring it to you! So this game is fun, mentally stimulating, and super practical!
#4 The New Trick Game
This game involves training your dog to come up with a new trick to do each time you say the command “new trick”. Whatever they do, they can’t repeat the same trick they just did before. This is pretty advanced so if you really want to make your dog a genius, this can be their final exam. Here’s how it works:
- Say the command “new trick”.
- When your dog does anything, whether it’s sit or put their paw on the couch, give them a treat.
- Repeat the command.
- If they try to do the same thing they did the first time, say “no”. And don’t give a treat.
- Repeat the command.
- If they do something different than their previous trick, give them a treat.
- Repeat this process until they know what you expect when you give the “new trick” command.
This game will improve your dog’s creativity and independent thinking skills. Because “new trick” does not refer to a specific trick, it forces them to think of their own idea. When they run through all the list of tricks that you taught them, they’ll have to start coming up with new ideas on their own! Don’t give up easily if you want to make your dog a genius; this requires work and patience.
Improving Cognitive Skills Will Make Your Dog a Genius
Games like these require some level of reasoning, memory, and coordination. So playing them with your dog regularly will help make your dog a genius. Of course, they’ll probably still chase their tail now and again. But who among us doesn’t enjoy a bit of silly fun from time to time? Eventually, you’ll start to notice that they are much better behaved overall. They might even surprise you with brand new tricks they came up with all on their own!