Icon Toys (Outline) Toys

Best Dog Games: Brain Train Your Best Friend With These Brain Teasers


Last Updated: January 8, 2024 | 8 min read | Leave a Comment

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Here’s how it works.

Keeping your pet entertained on a wet day when he can’t play outside can be challenging. But finding ways to occupy your dog’s mind is vital if you’re to prevent destructive behaviors from developing.

We’ve put together this list of super-fun games that your dog will love! You can play some of these games outside, but we’ve included plenty of indoor distractions too.

All you need to play these games is a few basic dog toys and plenty of treats.

At A Glance: Best Brain Game Toys

Nylabone Power Chew Double Bone Bacon Flavored Dog Chew Toy
Our Rating

Tug Of War

Mammoth Cloth Rope

Our Rating


Project Hive Pet Company

Our Rating



Which Hand?

The Which Hand game is a wonderful way of introducing your dog to nose work and should be done after they’ve learned basic commands like shake. All you need for this game is some kibble or your dog’s favorite treats.

Hold a treat or a piece of kibble in one hand. Offer your dog both your hands in fists, and let your dog pick which hand holds the treat. Before you play this game with your dog, you might need to practice some impulse control training to discourage your pet from using his teeth or claws to open your hand!

The Flirt Stick

Flirt Sticks are a brilliant toy for outdoor games with your dog. A Flirt Stick is a long stick that has a rope fixed to the end. Some sort of “lure” in the form of a toy or rope tail is attached to the end of the rope. You entice your dog to chase the lure, giving your pet lots of exercise and fun!

Flirt Sticks are a wonderful way of burning off your dog’s excess energy and safely satisfying the prey drive in some breeds. You can also incorporate impulse control training into a game of Flirt Stick by teaching the “let go” command.

Always let your dog catch the lure sometimes so that he doesn’t become discouraged and lose interest in the game.

Remember that Flirt Stick is a high-impact game, so always begin slowly and don’t overdo it. If your dog is a senior, a puppy, or has any joint or mobility issues, a gentler game is recommended for safety reasons.

Tug Of War

Border Collie tugging on rope toy
Tug of War is one of the most popular interactive dog and owner games around.

If it’s played properly, it can be a fabulous way of exercising and entertaining your pet. Before you start playing Tug of War, make sure that your dog is obedient to the “leave it” command. Don’t shake the tug rope too vigorously, or you could accidentally injure your dog. Also, if your pup gets overexcited and becomes aggressive, stop the game right away and choose a calmer pursuit instead. Here’s a rope we recommend.

Shaping Games

Shaping games are a very effective method of training your dog, as well as entertaining him. The idea here is to capitalize on your dog’s natural ability to learn new things.

A good way to begin is by taking a shallow cardboard box and placing it near your dog. As soon as your dog touches the box, reward his curiosity with a treat. Gradually build on that behavior by encouraging your dog to place his paw into the box, and rewarding him when he does so.

This indoor game is perfect for intelligent breeds and lends itself very well to clicker training.


Bordoodle Running with Frisbee
Frisbee is the ideal game for herding and retrieving breeds.

Fetching a frisbee is the perfect sport for energetic dogs that love to chase things. Frisbee is basically a game of fetch that can be made more advanced by the dog catching the Frisbee in mid-air. Always use a soft, dog-specific Frisbee that won’t injure your dog if he collides with the toy.

Agility Course

Dogs Running Through Agility Course
Turn your backyard into an obstacle course or visit your local dog park.

Dog agility is an exciting sport that’s loved by many dogs and their owners right around the world. Even if you have no competitive aspirations, playing agility games with your dog is a great way of keeping him fit and stimulating his brain too.

You don’t need a full-blown agility course at home to have fun with your dog. Just a few pieces of agility equipment and enough outside space for your dog to run and jump will suffice. Here’s an at-home agility kit you can get and take with you to practice anywhere.

Three Cup Game

The Three Cup game is another great nose game that’s perfect for puppy training and for senior dogs that don’t like to run around anymore.

Take three plastic cups and place them in a line in front of your dog. First of all, put a treat under one of the cups so that your pet can see it. Then, ask him to show you which cup the treat is under. When he makes the right choice, reward him by letting him have the treat.

Once your dog understands the game, hide the treat in secret, and wait for him to figure out where it is.

Hunt The Treats

Hunting for treats is a straightforward game that any dog can play. All you do is hide treats around your home in places where your dog is allowed to go.

Begin by placing a few treats out in the open where your dog can see them, and then make the game more challenging by hiding the rewards so that your pet has to use his nose to locate the prize.

Kong Stuffing

Dog Chasing Kong
There are a variety of different options for kongs. They come in various sizes and shapes.

Kong toys are extremely popular with many dog owners. Kongs are safe, practically indestructible toys that even the most determined chewer will have trouble destroying!

Stuff the Kong toy with treats and broth and freeze it overnight. Your dog will be kept occupied for hours trying to get the treats from inside the toy! That’s a really useful ploy that you can use to relieve your dog’s boredom and stress when you have to go out and leave your pet home alone for a while.

Bubble Chasing

Bubble chasing is a simple game that you can play with your dog. You’ll need to use dog-friendly bubbles that you can buy online. Dog bubbles are flavored and non-toxic, so your dog can eat them with no ill effects. Unlike soap bubbles, dog bubbles are thick and won’t pop when they land on a surface.

Begin by blowing a couple of bubbles and encouraging your dog to chase them. Most dogs love this game, especially once they realize that catching the bubbles is a tasty reward!

You’ll need to play the bubble chasing game outside, as the bubbles can leave a sticky residue on surfaces, which could make a mess inside your home.

Water Games

Happy Dog on a Paddle Board
Having your pooch join you in water sports is a great way to bond with your best pal.

Lots of dogs are enthusiastic water hounds who love nothing more than a romp in the sea or a swim in a lake. Even a shallow pet paddling pool in your backyard can provide hours of fun for your pet and is also great for keeping them cool on a hot day. If you’re planning on taking your dog for some water games, make sure that you’re using dog toys that float.

At home, a garden hosepipe can be used to create a fun game, and many dogs enjoy snapping at the jet of water, trying to catch it, and getting both of you soaked in the process! If your dog doesn’t enjoy the hosepipe game, try setting up a sprinkler with a gentler stream of water for your dog to play in.

Can You Dig It?

If your dog loves digging, it’s a brilliant idea to make your dog’s own digging box. Not only will a dedicated digging box prevent damage to your garden, but it’ll also help to satisfy your pup’s urge to explore. If you have cats in your household or your neighborhood, make sure you have a lid for the digging box to stop it from being used as a litter tray!

You can encourage your dog to play the digging game by burying some washable toys in it for your pet to find and dig out.

Hide And Seek

Herding and retrieving breeds love a game of Hide and Seek! You’ll need to have your dog obedient to the “stay” command so that he’ll wait while you go to hide or else ask a friend to distract your pet while you sneak away.

Pick a hiding place that’s not too obvious, and then allow your dog to use his scenting and tracking talents to find you. Reward your pup with treats and praise when he finds you.


Even if you have limited space, you can still entertain your dog by training him. Training can be an entertaining way to spend time with your dog and build a bond with him, as well as improve his obedience.

Training your dog to perform simple tricks is the perfect activity for a dull day when you’re both stuck at home. Most dogs enjoy learning new things too, as long as you make the experience fun. Start with something simple such as “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it,” and then move on to more difficult tricks such as “roll over,” “give a paw,” “shut the door,” etc.

If you’re new to dog ownership, you might find taking your pet to dog training classes where you can learn how to train your pet correctly and successfully is a great way of socializing him too. Alternatively, there are options for online dog training classes.

Staircase Dash

If you live in a house that has stairs, you can create a great energy-burning game for your dog by utilizing this feature of your home. Ask your dog to run up the stairs so that the strain on his joints is minimal, and allow him to come back down the stairs at his own pace.

To play the Staircase Dash game, choose one of your dog’s favorite toys. Ask your dog to sit and stay at the bottom of the stairs, and then throw the toy up the stairs to the top landing. Make the game more exciting by making your dog wait. Try saying, “Ready, steady, GO!” and then allow your dog to dash up the stairs to get the toy.

The Staircase Dash game is not suitable for young dogs under one year of age whose joints are soft and still developing or for senior dogs and those with existing joint conditions.


To play Tag, you’ll need some treats, a tug toy, and a partner.

Each person has a pocket full of treats. Begin by standing across the room from one another. Call your dog, and reward him with a treat and lots of praise when he comes to you. Now, your partner calls the dog, rewarding your pet as before. Next, make the distance greater between you and your partner until you’re both in different rooms.

The idea of this game is to maximize the amount of exercise your dog gets and to keep him fit, so substitute treats for a tug toy as a reward from time to time so that you don’t undo all your good work!

Tidy-up Time

Husky Chasing Toys
Teach your dog to clean up their own toys.

Rather than putting all your dog’s toys away after a play session, you can turn to tidy up into a game for your pet.

Begin by training your dog to bring one toy and drop it into his toy box. Reward your pet with a treat when he gets it right. Once the penny drops and your dog understands the game, you can scatter toys around your home, and each time your dog finds one, he gets a reward.

Tidy-up Time is a challenging game that is perfect for an older dog who isn’t spry enough to play more athletic games.

Final Thoughts

Dogs are intelligent, active creatures that can suffer from boredom and stress if their lives lack mental and physical stimulation. All the games we’ve included in this article make great boredom busters for your pet, and many of them will help to keep him fit and burn-off excess energy too.

Author's Suggestion

How To Socialize Your Dog: Field Trips, Neighborhood Walks & More

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top