Brain Games for Dogs: Fun Ways to Build a Strong Bond with Your Dog and Provide It with Vital Mental Stimulation

Brain Games for Dogs: Fun Ways to Build a Strong Bond with Your Dog and Provide It with Vital Mental Stimulation

by Claire Arrowsmith


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Ideal for the growing number of dog owners who know that mental activity is as important as exercise when it comes to their dog's health and happiness.

This book provides more than just fun ways to challenge a dog's thinking and puzzle-solving ability. Claire Arrowsmith strongly suggests that such challenges help build a strong bond between a dog and its owner. She examines the accepted evidence of the importance of mental stimulation and why it's important to use only reward-based teaching methods. She also explains how to use hand signals and incorporate mental challenges and learning into everyday activities.

Icons for each game indicate whether it is interactive, solo or group, where it can be played, the level of difficulty and whether any props or toys are used. Some of these great games are:

  • Puppy Play
  • Hide and Seek

  • Carry It
  • Egg and Spoon Race
  • Mini Agility Course
  • Nature's Obstacle Course
  • Find the Treat
  • Roll Over, Play Dead and other performance tricks

With straightforward text and full-color photographs, Brain Games for Dogs is a valuable guide to important elements for successful and fun dog training.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781554074907
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 07/01/2010
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 145,289
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Claire Arrowsmith is a zoologist and applied animal behaviorist. She has conducted research in dog aggression, animal rescue, behavioral consultations and the training of hearing dogs for the deaf. She is the principal practitioner for the Pet Behavior Centre, which offers consultations in 10 regional clinics, including Queen's Veterinary School at Cambridge University, England.

Read an Excerpt

Introducing Brain Games

The fact that you are reading about Brain Games for your dog means that you have an interest in keeping him or her active and happy. Some people will be looking for ways to encourage their dog to be more active, some will want suggestions to occupy their dog while they are away, while others may just want some ideas to put the fun back into playing with their pet. Even with the best of intentions we often get stuck in a rut playing the same old games with our dogs. And even these may diminish over time as we lose interest in following the same old routine.

Many owners will claim that their dog does enjoy playing but, when pressed, they can only list one or two games that he plays. One favorite game may be useful for training or for keeping the dog occupied, but generally it is not sufficient and the dog is left under-stimulated or over-focused on one activity which in itself can lead to problems.

We love our dogs deeply and view them, quite rightly, as highly intelligent animals. The truly wonderful thing is that dogs actually do love learning and discovering new ways to fill their days, to use up their abundant energy and to interact with the humans in their pack. This gives us lots of scope to work and play with our dogs. In fact, our imagination is the only limiting factor regarding the number of things that we can do together.

Keep Topping Up Your Training

Many people will teach their dog the basic commands and then declare him "trained". Whatever the owner may say, the dog's learning and development will continue whether his owner is making time for him or not. He will still require stimulation, activity and fun. When I meet owners of young dogs who declare after a short puppy training course that their dog has finished its training, I often think how frustrating it would be for us if our education ended when we were still in childhood. If we had to keep on repeating the same lessons over and over again, we would all soon get bored and lack enthusiasm. Think about how many limitations that would put on your lifestyle and your ability to interact appropriately and cope in this world.

It is just as important that a dog's education continues, especially since an untrained or frustrated dog can be dangerous. This is why it is critical that all dog owners think carefully about their dog's routine and lifestyle and take the time to make provision for new games. The benefits are enormous as a contented, stimulated dog is less likely to develop many of the more common behavioral problems. This makes pet ownership much easier overall.

The more time you spend having fun training and playing with your pet, the stronger the bond between you will be. Friendship grows from the fun you have together and vital trust can then form. A strong relationship between a dog and his owner is special and highly rewarding.

Many dogs lack sufficient stimulation during their normal daily life because their days are spent completely within their home environment. This can become very predictable and, to put a human term to the emotion, boring. This means that these dogs are not living a fulfilled existence. Dogs that have not had the chance to use up their energy are likely to become over-excitable and difficult to handle, making any sort of obedience training difficult. Even periods of play with these dogs dwindle because they become too excited when you do try to play and can't learn the concept of even simple games like "Fetch." Lack of stimulation is thus a contributing factor to many behavioral complaints. These can vary from behaviors that are inconvenient and annoying; such as some destructive habits or barking, to problems which are much more distressing and dangerous, such as self-mutilation or frustration related aggression.

What Is A Brain Game?

A brain game is any activity that provides your dog with mental stimulation. It fulfills your dog's needs for entertainment and provides a challenge, which is stimulating and exciting. Some brain games also provide physical stimulation, which is equally as important for the overall wellbeing of your dog. Some activities require you to spend time training your dog, while others will provide your dog with an activity to enjoy while you are out or will be pursued just for the fun of it.

Table of Contents


    What Is A Brain Game?
    Why Do Dogs Need Activities?
    Invest Time In Your Dog
    The Influence of Breeds on Games

Part 1: Prepare To Play Brain Games

    Chapter One: Introducing Brain Games
      Examples of Breed Type and General Play Preference
      The Influence of Age on Play
      Why Health Is Important In Brain Games
      Which Games To Play?
      Playing With Multiple Pets
      Behavior Problems
      Brain Games
    Chapter Two: The Basic Skills
      Why Use Positive Training Methods?
      Rules Of Game Play
      Using Rewards In Play
      Using Food As Rewards
      What Treats?
      Your Dog Can Win Jackpots!
      Reducing The Rewards
      What Motivates Your Dog?

      Where To Begin Brain Game?
      When To Begin Brain Games?
      Have Realistic Aims
      Take A Break
      Why Good Ground Rules Are Important
      Should You Try Clicker Training?
      Getting Your Timing Right
      Getting Started With A Clicker
      Training Without A Clicker
      Shaping Behaviors To Build A Game
      Brain Games Involving Toys
      Safety Considerations:
        The Size, Shape And Structure Of Toys
        Other Injury Risks
        Teaching Basic Play Skills To Timid Or New Dogs
        Rescued Dogs
      Avoiding Problems and Resolving Minor Issues
      Charting Your Progress
      Using Hand Signals
      Introducing Verbal Cues
      Minimizing Cues
      Coping When Training Doesn't Go As Planned
      Avoid Punishment During Games
      Prepared To Play

Part 2: Let The Brain Games Begin

    Chapter Three: It's Puppy-Play
      Puppy Chew Chew
      Puppy Retrieve
      Go To Bed
      Take It And Leave It
    Chapter Four: Games At Home
      Activity Toys And Boredom Busters
      Find It!
      The Leg Weave
      Jump Over
      Limbo Dancing
      Doorbell Dash
      Where Are My Keys?
      The Canine Cleaner
      Tidy Your Toys
    Chapter Five: Games For Small Areas
      Foot Touch
      Push The Door Closed
      Indoor Agility
      Play Box
    Chapter Six: Games For The Garden
      Digging For Treasure
      Frozen Popsicles
      Toy Bungee
      Creating An Outdoor Obstacle Course

      Jumping Hoops
      Tunnel Dash
    Chapter Seven: Games To Play While Out And About
      Extendable Excitement
      Skater Dog
      Hide And Seek
      Carry It
      Nature's Obstacle Course
      Egg And Spoon Race
    Chapter Eight: Verbal Games
      Multilingual Tricks
      Toy Identity Parade
    Chapter Nine: Traveling Games
      Catch The Treat
      In-Car Entertainment
      Poker Face
    Chapter Ten: Water Games
      Bobbing For Treats
      Dunking And Diving
      The Great Water Race
    Chapter Eleven: Games For Less Active Dogs
      Balance A Treat On Your Paw
      Balance A Treat On Your Nose
      Shy Dog
    Chapter Twelve: Search Games
      Canine Eye
      Out Of Sight But Not Out Of Mind
      Go Get . . .
    Chapter Thirteen: Armchair Games
      Reach Out And Touch
      How Do You Do?
      Hop Over
      Sneeze And Retrieve!
      Say Your Prayers
      Fetch The Bowl
      Changing Channels
    Chapter Fourteen: Games For Specific Breeds
      Herding Dogs
    Chapter Fifteen: Party Games
      Shake A Paw
      Waving Hi And Goodbye
      Spinning Around And Around
      Rollin' Rover
      Playing Dead
      Crawling Canine
      Multiple Dog Party Tricks
    Chapter Sixteen: Competitive Games
      Frisbee, Flying Disc Or Disc Dog

      Heelwork To Music Or Canine Freestyle
      Earthdog Trials
      Lure Coursing
      Dock Diving Or Splash Dogs
      Field Trials
      Herding Trials
    Picture Credits

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