Brain Games for Dogs to Defeat Winter Zoomies

Dog puzzle treat dispenser

Bentley is a hyperactive nutball. He’s also a sensitive little diva. Getting his feet wet bothers him more than it does the cats. So in the winter, all his zoomies happen inside the house. But there isn’t exactly room for that sort of thing in my living room! So I’ve had the challenge of figuring out how to get Bentley’s energy out without tearing up the house. The answer not only calms him down, but makes him smarter too: brain games for dogs.

Dogs put a lot of energy into thinking and solving problems. Training or working on brain games can be just as effective at wearing them out as taking a run around the block. It might take a little longer, but a brain game will keep him occupied for a while.

brain puzzle for dogs

I purchased this dog puzzle several months ago, but only recently got it out for Bentley. The design is simple: there are ten holes and six covers. You load the game with treats under some or all of the covers. Then your dog tries to find them and get them out. Physically, this requires use of his nose, paws, and mouth. Mentally, he has to sniff around and figure out which hole the treat is in, then use his dexterity with either his paws or mouth to move the lid aside and get the treat.

Bentley already uses his paws like hands a lot, so he often just slides the lids aside with his feet. He does a lot of sniffing, especially after clearing some of the holes, to figure out where the remaining treats are hidden.

brain games for dogs

After seeing how successful brain games for dogs are at keeping Bentley occupied, I plan on getting or making more for him. Pinterest is full DIY of ideas, and I created a board with some of my favorites.

brain games for dogs

If you want to try this game for your dog, you can get it pretty inexpensively off Amazon! And if you use the link below, I get a little commission.

The same company makes this puzzle, which I think will be our next purchase. It’s a bit more complicated, but Bentley is pretty good at the bone now.

Does your dog enjoy brain games? What is his favorite?

13 Comments

  1. Tonya

    Bentley looks like he’s having a great time with his game. Thanks for sharing it.

    Reply
  2. Talent Hounds

    Looks fun but I wonder if it would work with short muzzles dogs like my pug Kilo.

    Reply
    1. ryan (Post author)

      Yes! They just have to use their paws and tongue more than their snout.

      Reply
  3. Caren

    If you haven’t tried them already, you NEED to try the Nina Ottosson line of “brain games” for dogs. They are the BEST!! I have a Shetland Sheepdog who needs mental stimulation constantly, he LOVES them!

    Reply
    1. ryan (Post author)

      I’ll check them out! Bentley is a Tibetan Spaniel. He’s just as high energy and intelligence as Shelties, so he definitely needs the mental stimulation as well.

      Reply
  4. Christine

    I’m such a fan of puzzle toys and absolutely love the one you featured. We have a bunch of Nina Ottoson toys that I forget about until the weather gets bad again so thanks for the reminder!!

    Reply
    1. ryan (Post author)

      This is our only one so far, but I definitely plan on getting (or making) more. I love puzzle games too. I have a few for humans. lol

      Reply
  5. Kari

    I love those games! We feed our dogs their evening meals in puzzles. We started it when the time changed a few years ago… and haven’t stopped!

    Reply
    1. ryan (Post author)

      That’s a great idea! If my dogs ate kibble, I’d try that. Their food would make a huge mess in a toy. lol

      Reply
  6. Jan K

    Bentley looks like a very smart guy! I think I underestimate how much these types of games can occupy the dogs sometimes. We have a few of them and I’ll have to start getting them out more. I’ve always wanted to try the simple one I see sometimes – just tennis balls and a muffin tin. Have you seen that one?

    Reply
    1. ryan (Post author)

      Yes, I think that’s one of the ones I pinned the other day. Might be too easy for Bentley, but Quincy might enjoy it!

      Reply
  7. Lindsay

    These puzzle toys look like so much fun, sure beats a boring old bowl of food on the floor!

    Reply
  8. Tenacious Little Terrier

    I have a food puzzle he hasn’t tried that I need to pull out. He favors his wobbler. Thanks for joining the hop!

    Reply

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