When you think of an adjective to describe dogs, many people don’t think of the word “intelligent” as the first option. The famous dog chasing after his tail or running to look for a ball that you “fake” threw are only two of the many examples that sometimes put your little buddy´s intelligence to the question. Though dogs might not have an IQ like that of Einstein, they are still incredibly smart with some breeds such as labs and cocker spaniels leading the way.
But just like you, your dog needs a little bit of mental stimulation to develop the full capacity of his intelligence. You wouldn´t know how to do long division without at least have made it through elementary school math, and you can´t expect your dog to understand your every command when you don´t take the time to practice and train him.
If you want your pup to be one of those dogs that “wows” your friends with his or her almost human-like intelligence and cleverness, here are six exercises or brain games that you can play with your dog to keep him or her on their toes.
Name Your Dog´s Toys
Every dog has a few favorite toys; whether they be squeakers or chew toys or your old stuffed animal from the time you were a child. One of the most important aspects of developing your dog´s intelligence is in helping him or her to develop the ability to categorize names with certain objects.
Instead of just telling your furry friend to go bring her “toy”; or instead of pointing to the toy or object you want her to bring, start to put names to the different toys. Begin with three or four of her most favorite toys. Once she learns to identify those toys by name, you can move on to other, less-used toys until your dog will be able to recognize most of her toys by name.
A Good Diet for a Sharp Mind
Just like you, your dog needs a proper diet in order to develop his or her full cognitive abilities. Many studies show that elementary age children who don´t eat a wholesome breakfast suffer at school, and the same can be said of your dog. You need to make sure that your dog is eating regularly and a balanced, nutritious diet. That means less table treats and more dedication to the routine of a . Make sure to find a dog food that is recommended by your vet for your breed of dog and a food that is high vitamins C and E, selenium, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.
If your dog is stuck inside for hours on end each day, sooner or later you will notice that he will begin to become sluggish and lazy. The lack of mental stimulation and new places to explore can kill a dog´s natural spunk and desire to explore. Make an effort to take your dog out hiking as often as possible. Not only will the exercise clear his mind, but the ability to interact with the world around him will keep him sharp.
When hiking with your dog, make your dog carry his own weight by finding a quality dog backpack that fits snugly onto his back. Not only will your own back and shoulders thank you, but your dog will also benefit by learning to let you know when he needs a drink of water from the supply he is carrying on his back. Check out this blog post for a great review of the best dog backpacks on the market today.
Play Memory with Your Dog´s Favorite Snack
You know those games they play on the giant screens at professional sporting event where you have to try and identify the peanut that is under a certain cup that is moved in crazy-hard to follow order? The same type of game can be played with your dog to help develop his or her memory. Take your dog´s favorite toy and put it under one of two cups that you have in front of you. Have your pup come and touch which cup is hiding her treat. If she gets it right, she gets the treat, if not you can start over. You can continue to develop the difficulty of this game until you dog is able to impress your friends with her strong memory.
Give Your Dog a Job
Certain dog breeds have been bred over the centuries for their particular dexterity at certain tasks that were essential for the rural, agrarian cultures where there were developed. From hunting dogs to sheep herding dogs, many types of dogs are at their best when they have a specific job that they know is theirs.
If you don´t head out to woods hunting every week nor have a herd of sheep on your third-floor apartment, you can still mimic these types of tasks when you head outside to play with your dog. Playing fetch is one of the best games to develop a dog´s intelligence. Make sure that he or she learns the “rules” of the game and obediently brings the ball (or other object) back to you as soon as she fetches it.
Play Hide and Seek
This classic child´s game is also a great option to help develop the intelligence and problem-solving abilities of your dog. Use a favorite toy or bone of your dog and hide it in places that he or she might not think of right off the bat. You might need two people to play this game. One person to distract the dog while the other hides it. Begin by hiding the toy nearby (say underneath a pillow on the couch where you are sitting) and then gradually increase the difficulty.
Amaze Your Friends with Your Einstein-Like Dog
With a little bit of time and dedication to using these tricks for developing a dog´s intelligence, you should begin to see a noticeable increase in your pup´s cognitive abilities. While he or she might never be able to understand quantum physics (do you?), a dog who uses his or her intelligence is inevitably a better companion.