This section gives you a range of ideas on how to mentally stimulate your dog's mind by encouraging it to use its instincts and senses while not over-stressing the dog so that it can relax and sleep deeply and naturally afterwards.


There is a great deal of emphasis on training dogs to do things for their humans - such as flushing, retrieving, obedience, flyball, agility, etc - but these pastimes are not always appealing or suitable for either the dog or the Handler. Sometimes even simple training sessions like Recall (1 part of 8 Dog Games training) can be all that the dog and Handler can cope with together. Yet the dog's working instincts are not being fulfilled and it often turns its frustration and pent up mental energy into unwanted behavioural problems.


 In an effort to rectify this lack of stimulation, it is very tempting to give your dog "quality time" by taking it for lots of long walks, or playing chase the toy/another dog for long periods of time, in an effort to tire the dog out. However, these sort of activities often make the situation worse as they raise the dog's adrenaline and excitement levels even further so that the dog continues to walk/run even though it is physically exhausted.


The dog can become even more restless in its day to day life as it is unable to relax and sleep properly in-between these sessions due to the long-term stress levels in its body, and becomes even more prone to unwanted behavioural problems.


Here are a couple of ideas within this website: -

    Tuna Tracking

    Gravy Trail

    Find It

    Kongs &  Activity Toys


with Facebook support group for help & advice




  • Rests and sleeps better
    With this in mind, this section of the Dog Games website gives you a range of ideas on how to mentally stimulate your dog's mind by encouraging it to use its instincts and senses while not over-stressing the dog so that it can relax and sleep deeply and naturally afterwards.


  • Stronger relationship
    It is amazing how rewarding and fulfilling dogs find these and similar pastimes (see also Reading the Newspaper) and they also have the added benefit of building a much stronger relationship between the handler and the dog. This is because the Handler provides exciting and mentally challenging opportunities that the dog has never come across before and the dog has a strong incentive to do these Mind Games (which only happen when their handler is present) as the whole activity is so rewarding for the dog.
  • Reducing Stress
    Another benefit of doing these sort of activities is that the dog's body actively tries to reduce its long-term stress levels so that it can concentrate on using its senses - especially its sense of smell. The dog quickly learns how to calm itself down and can repeat this reducing stress technique in other aspects of its life and training.


Better concentration
Finally, the dog is able to develop its ability to concentrate for longer periods of time as it gradually improves its technique of finding the article or food, or following a track that its Handler has set. This has a knock on effect as well in other areas of a dog's training as it is able to concentrate for longer periods of time. For instance -

  • The dog is able to concentrate long enough to remain in a Wait or Stay until it is released.
  • Do more obstacles on an agility course as it is more focused and able to concentrate.
  • Have sufficient concentration to walk on its lead without pulling, rather than "forgetting" it is on a lead and jerking its Handler this way and that to get to all the interesting scents in the environment.
  • Be able to do a series of training exercise in one session.

For instance - Walking to heel while changing directions and speed in Obedience training and tests; have sufficient concentration and low stress levels to successfully do three or more Flyball runs when racing another team; performing a series of tricks and maneuvers in Heelwork to Music without losing concentration or becoming stressed.


These Mind Games do not have to be done that often (once or twice a week is more than sufficient for most dogs). The sessions themselves should be short and fun for the dog rather than being too tiring or difficult that eventually the dog sees the games as being stressful and gives up playing them.


After the FULL training session has finished and equipment is being returned to storage, the dogs are allowed to socialise and interact with other dogs while off the lead.  This helps the dog build up happy and confident associations with the other dogs in readiness to work together in the more advanced stages of the Dog Games later on.


This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).


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