5 Fun DIY Mental Stimulation Games For Dogs To Play At Home

Dog training games by far are one of the best ways to get your dog engaging with fun stimulating activities. Ont only that, but it also provides a great way to encourage your dog to learn w things in a fun and playful manner. Today I’m going to share 5 fun dog training games that you can get started with right now with your dog. Let’s get into it!


Free or Paid Games?

Free games are a great way to get started with some quick games that you can play at home. But if your struck for time or want to do something outdoors then your probably going to need a little more than that to keep your dog happy. And also provide them the best chance at learning some new things.

I personally took the route of buying some games as I find that stimulation toys work well for my dog and her learning. But you’ll just have to try out a few and see what works for you. Hopefully, by reading this you’ll gather a little more clarity on what steps to take next.


Dog training games (explained)

Dog training games are purely games designed to encourage activity in your dog. Usually, games that are created around thinking or having to figure something out. I personally tend to buy games that I can fill with treats and also provide this type of stimulation. I will cover a few of those throughout this post so you can see exactly what I use.

My golden retriever (Bella) seems to love them and every so often we always upgrade her to A Different toy. And that’s really and truly dog training games in a nutshell. There are other games that don’t provide the same types of stimulation. But I don’t tend to go for those. As I would rather my dog learn and have fun at the same time.


Mental stimulation for dogs?

Stimulation in dogs is really not that different from how it is in people. It’s essentially the process of stimulating your brain to engage it and encourage it to take part in a set task. Youll find for a dog it’s exactly the same thing, the only difference is that with dogs we can package the tool to do it inside of a toy.


Best times to play with your dog

When it comes to the ‘right’ time, there is no exact right or wrong as every circumstance is different. However, with that being said I do not recommend you do it before going to bed.

Mainly because I think there is a fine line between excitement and tiring them out. It can be very hard to tire out a dog so by playing games with them before bed. You could be simply encouraging them to get into a mode of having fun.

If you have a puppy then this would not be a good idea. Because there is almost no off switch. And you’ll be up all night. Or kept up, should I say…So it’s highly recommended that you do this at a reasonable time with when your dog will be most likely to take part. But what if they didn’t want to play.


What if your dog doesn’t want to play?

If you find that your dog doesn’t want to take part then there are many different ways that you can encourage them to. I had this problem at first with my dog (Bella). This is mainly because I had little experience with this kinda thing. I bought a toy that kinda didn’t do anything and just sort of placed it in front of her.

Silly old me ey… but I quickly came to realize that she wasn’t going to take part in anything like this. That’s when I decided to take a different approach to everything to encourage her two play more. Were not literally but you know what I mean..I then decided to go online and find toys that actually provided some sort of challenge.

That’s when I started looking into mental stimulation toys. Now although it has this big fancy name.  It does not mean it has to be a fancy toy. There is a lot of toys that you can find out there that do not require a big hole in your pocket.


Hold your horses…

Hold your horses speedy Gonzales because we’re going to get to that in just a moment. I think it is very important for you to identify exactly what games will be most suitable for your dog.

That’s why I’ve listed out all different benefits to each time that I’ve provided you in the list below. Another game I’m going to describe in the first part is all about getting involved and taking part in free at home activities.

This section will be covering all of the different toys you can purchase for when you’re out and about and your dog is left at home. So here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for.

The big list of dog training games that you can do with your dog from the comfort of your home. continue reading to see what’s best for you.


My top 5 Free dog training games to play at home

1. Hide & Seek

This game is one of my personal favorites. Now I can assure you will be a lot easier if your dog can stay, sit and follow basic instructions. This is because you need to get them to sit there in the same place for around 10 seconds. Whilst you go and hide out in a location out of this site.

They then have to come and search for you to win at the game. Or if your dog is well trained enough, then you could also do it the other way round. When you start counting they can go and hide, and then you have to find them. I’m sure if you’re reading this blog, then you have probably played hide and seek.


2. The three cup game

To play this game, you will need to place three cups lined up in front of your dog. Under one of the cups, you will place a treat. Then you will change the position of each Cup as fast as possible without lifting the cup of the ground. It is purely for your dog to then know which Cup the treat is underneath.

Then your dog must select the cup that they assume the treat is underneath. To win at the game your Dog must select the correct Cup. This is a fun great game that anyone can play with your pup.

Fun facts about a dogs brain

Through researching, I have learned that dogs have a brain similar to a 2-year-old child. So that means you can teach them the basic things of learning names. They will get familiar with names based on many different things that they remember. A great way to play a game with your dog is to teach them the names of their toys.

This way when you tell them to get something they will have to pick out what it is you’re asking for and bring it back to you. It is a great game to get their brains ticking, whilst having a lot of fun.

I would recommend that you play this game by placing ties across the other side of a room or your garden. I would say to probably use around 5 toys at a minimum. Now, this does not have to be toys, as it can also be general items that a dog can pick up with their mouths.

And of course, something that you wouldn’t mind them getting there slobber all over. Firstly sit down for about 30 minutes and get them familiar with the name of each toy.


Dogs are people too

Just as if you were teaching it to a small child. So that means you need them to make eye contact with the toy whilst you are naming it. This is to just give you a confirmation that they understand what you are saying.

Now, all you need to do is name the toy that you would like them to get and allow them to go over and select it. Once they pick it up and bring it back they have won the game. It’s also a great way of helping them to clean up or put away their toys.

And that’s exactly a game in itself that will be discussed in the next game on the list…

3. Cleaning up toys

So just like mentioned in the previous section, you can play a game of where you get your pup to clean up their toys. This simply involves you teaching them what toys are linked to what names. You will need to sit and teach them what toys are linked to which names. After this, you will need to then tell them the toys to collect and then show them where to drop it.

Once your dog gets very familiar with this game. It can be quite fun for a lazy parent that leaves all the cleaning up to them. Or sometimes you might just get them to place it in a different location.  and then pick it back up and put it back where it was. However, you choose to play it will be down to you. Let’s get onto the next game…


4. Tug of war

This is one of my favorite childhood games. It was the only time that I would ever enjoy getting money and sweaty outside. Tug of war is a game that involves you using a strong rope and tying 2 knots at each end. On one end you will be holding the rope and the other end your dog will be biting on the rope.

It is then your job to pull us hard as you can towards your side in order to win the game. If however, your dog manages to pull you onto their side but tugging on the rope, then you will lose the game.

5. Food hunt

This game is a great way to use up a lot of treats and also give your dog some great fun on a nice afternoon. It purely involves you placing trees in different locations around the house or in the garden, that your dog will need to find. In order for them to win the game, they will have to go and seek out the treats and eat them. Very fun for them to play as well as nice and tasty for them too.

I love this game because it makes Bella think so much and where I have hidden the treats. The funny part is that when she cannot find them, she just ends up coming and moaning at me. Because she knows that I will eventually give in and just give her the treats if she can’t find them. But that always allows her to get a little better at finding them next time.

As she knows that I’m just trying to get her to learn on how to seek them out. But what if you don’t have all the time in the world or you need to go out for the afternoon. Well, there is still a way for you to ensure your dog gets the same fun and stimulation whilst you are out. Continue Reading to see my best listed reviewed mental stimulation dog training games.

Dog training games for mental stimulation

Everything that I recommend in this list is the products that I have personally tested. I will give you an honest opinion about how each of them worked for me and my puppy as well as provide you links to see more details on them.

There is no specific order to how I list these products so I can assure you they are the 5 best I found. Let’s get into it!

West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Puzzle Treat Chew Toy for Dogs

dg toy 2

This was a great little toy that required Bella to figure out how to get the treats out. It was good in the fact that I never had to worry too much about filling it again and again with treats. If you want to save some cash and still give your dog the best treats, then this is the toy for you.

There is a variety of food that you can stuff this with such as:

  • Kibble
  • Apple slices
  • Biscuits
  • Jerky Strips
  • Cheese chunks
  • Carrot sticks
  • Nut butter
  • Dental sticks

The best part is that when your dog is trying to get food out of it. It was also great for keeping their teeth healthy too. If your OCD like me then you would want to know how exactly you can clean this thing.

Well, I have some great news as it couldn’t be easier than just throwing it into the dishwasher. The only negative to the product was the fact that it started to break after a few weeks from my dog biting it. But that’s what happens to all the toys with my dog.

Overall I can say it’s a great product and I would highly recommend for any dog of any breed or size.

OurPets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy

dog toy 1

If I had to give you a favorite toy from this list, then this would definitely be it. I think the first thing that attracted me to this was the fact that it looks so cool. I think Bella thought the same too as she can sit with this particular toy for 30 minutes a time.

She may leave it and come back to it but one thing for sure is that she loves it. Depending on the size of your dog will depend on what size you will order. The great part about it is that they have many different sizes for you to choose from. I personally went for the biggest size because Bella is more of a larger dog. If you got a small dog then you can just select the smaller size to suit your puppy.

The cleaning part of this is really good too as you can just simply take it apart and then clean it. It will be down to you on whether you want to put it inside of the dishwasher or just wash it by hand. But I believe his ok so whatever you choose to do will be fine.

Breakfast time Games

I would take my dog’s food and place it inside of the toy for her to get some stimulation early in the morning whilst getting a nice healthy breakfast. The only downside to this product that I can say is the reviews that are red and how it affects smaller dogs. Apparently,  there are some dogs who get their teeth stuck inside of the plastic. One common thing I’m seeing is that they are all small dogs.

My big dog did not have this problem so I cannot say that this will happen to your dog. However,  I would be cautious about purchasing this specific toy if you are a parent of a smaller breed of dog. I give this product a thumbs up as it does what it says on the tin. It provides great stimulation to your dog as well as a slow feed to make as much use of those treats as possible. I can’t argue with that!

StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy

dog toy 3

Hands down this is a brilliant toy to provide for any dog. It’s almost similar to a kong in the way that it works but just that little bit better. I used this for Bella over a period of around 2 months and it worked like a charm. So the way it works is by Simply requiring your dog to knock the toy to one side in order to release a treat.

You can adjust the difficulty level on the toy by opening and closing the hole on the side of it. I personally tend to leave it three-quarters of the way open.  as that seems to work great for keeping Bella occupied over a longer period of time.


A few of the great things I found with this are:

  • The chamber in the bottom can hold up to 3 cups of food or in other words a full meal
  • This toy has a great wobble to it which causes your dog to want to play for a longer time (keeping them all occupied)
  • It has an adjustable slot on the side which allows you to set different levels of difficulty

I would definitely recommend this toy for any size or any breed dog. There are really and truly no negatives to this time that I can bring forward at this time.

West Paw Zogoflex Tux Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Chew Toy for Aggressive Chewers


I bought this toy not so long ago as a matter of fact. We’re still currently using this toy up to now as it has been a great way to keep Bella stimulated and occupied. I’ve come to realize that the brand West Paw is really really good.

As you can see I’ve actually covered 2 toys that I’m recommending from that brand inside of this post. Their products are usually really good, so whenever I see a toy from them I tend to really look into it a little bit further. Only because I know it’s something that I’ll probably end up buying. 

Most importantly I also know that my dog would probably enjoy it. The only negative I could really say about it is exactly the same thing that I said about the other. That was because after a while of owning this toy your dog might start to chip away at the material. I do know that they make it quite durable but I’m not sure that they Cater to strong  Jaws.

The great part is that you are covered with a guarantee. So if your dog manages to damage it through just biting it. Then they will be willing to send you out a new toy as soon as possible. Or of course, send you a refund if you decide that’s the route you want to go down. Either way, you’re covered and that’s the most important part.


Freeze it!

You can also freeze some treats and place it inside of it and then cover that with some peanut butter to seal the hole in the toy. That keeps your dog occupied for quite some time but you want to make sure that they don’t get peanut butter all over the floor.

If you have a garden dog then this would be absolutely brilliant. However, if your dog is left in the house and you are out then you may want to rethink that option. If you go down the route of freezing the food and then covering it up with peanut butter. Then place the whole toy inside of the freezer. This would literally keep your dog occupied for hours.

The one pro I can say about this toy is the fact that this kept Bella occupied for the longest period of time. So I could go out for like almost 2 hours come back and still finds her playing with this. Overall I would say it’s a great toy and a brilliant option to choose.

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Treat Puzzle Dog Toy

dog toy 5

So I said that the last time looks really cool and it has a cool name to go with it too. I can definitely assure you I did not make a buying decision based on that though.

This toy requires your dog to move or spin different levels of the toy in order to reveal the treats. No right of the bat it is not going to keep your dog has occupied as the other toys because there’s only so much you can fill it with.

With my dog Bella, she tends to last around 10 minutes with this. So is not something that I would leave her with whilst I go out for the day. Although it can be grateful when I’m in the house cooking or doing something else.

That way I can keep filling it up for her whenever the treats run out. It’s a very tough and durable toy and holds together quite well, which is kinda surprising! I would say it’s held together pretty well, and there isn’t really any signs of real damage to it as of yet.


Cleaning these toys

These toys all held up pretty well when it comes too clean (and I’m a clean freak). They all make good toys for leaving your dog to play with for hours and its a simple as rinsing it down after once they’re done to clean it.


Whatever toy you choose to buy then just make sure to check how long the toy can keep your dog occupied. Some will be more suitable than others depending on what breed of dog you have. Size can matter too, so just be sure to thoroughly check the details first.

Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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