There are so many different ways you can entertain your dog. However, mind games for german shepherds are some of the best! As one of the most intelligent dogs around, you’re really going to have to go above and beyond to stimulate their brains.
So keep reading to find out all the different mind games for german shepherds!
Mind Games For German Shepherds
The chances are that your german shepherd won’t like playing every game below. In fact, you probably won’t like playing every game either. However, it’s worth giving all of them a go, and seeing which one’s are the best fit.
So let’s get started!
Treasure hunt is one of the easiest games you can play with your german shepherd, and it takes very little effort on your part. And not only is it going to stimulate their brain, but it’s also going to stimulate their senses as well!
To play the game you’ll need to do the following.
- Get your pup to sit and stay before hiding a treat for them. When you’re first getting started put the treat somewhere obvious, even going so far as to hide it right in front of them.
- Next, give them the cue to begin searching. I like to say “find it”. Once they’ve found it make sure you give them lots and lots of attention and praise.
- The more your german shepherd begins to understand what the game is about, the harder you can make it. Begin putting the treats places it’ll take them a while to find. Just make sure you’re not making it too hard, too quickly.
Once your german shepherd understands the game, they’re going to love it! It’s a great game that will entertain you both!
The Muffin Tin Game
This is another great game for when you don’t have much time. And it’s going to tease your dog’s mind for hours.
- Find a muffin tin that can fit a tennis ball into each hole. You’ll need to find one where the tennis ball doesn’t come out too easily or too hard.
- Once you’ve found one, place some strong-smelling treats into some of the muffin indents, before placing the tennis balls on top of every hole. This way sometimes your pup will remove the tennis ball to find there’s no treat, and become more motivated to remove the rest.
- Then let your german shepherd figure out how to get to the treats by removing the tennis balls.
- If they’re having difficulty removing the tennis balls at first, use something smaller so they can easily get to the treat. This helps establish the premise of the game to them.
Hide And Seek
Your german shepherd is going to love playing hide and seek as much as kids do! While it is best played with two people, if your german shepherd is obedient enough, you can teach them to play it by themselves.
- Get someone to give your german shepherd a ‘sit and wait’ cue, while you go and hide (or if your german shepherd is disciplined enough, give them the wait command before finding a hiding place.)
- Now go find somewhere to hide. For the first few times, you’re going to have to make it nice and easy for them. This way, they’ll learn how the game works.
- As time goes on, make the game harder and harder. This will help keep their minds entertained, while also teaching them to use their senses.
- When they find you make sure you give them lots of attention and praise.
What’s good about this game is that you don’t need to give your german shepherds treats to play it. So if your pup is overweight or you think they’re becoming overweight, it’s a great alternative to treat based games.
Red Light, Green Light
This is an EXCELLENT game for dogs that struggle with learning when to be calm and when to be excited. However, if your german shepherd is very excitable then you’ll need to be extra patient with them.
- Before playing this game you’ll need to make sure you have a command for your german shepherd to lay down. (For this example, I’m going to use the command ‘down’ which I use with my own dog.)
- Once your dog knows the command take them outside. Get them to lay down, and then say “Ready…Set…GO!” on ‘go’ sprint a few paces forward, then stop and say “Down”. (The first few times it may take your german shepherd a while to lay down, but when they do lay down, give them lots of attention and a treat.)
- As your dog begins to understand the game more and more, you can get faster. When they’re really good, you can say ‘Go’ again, the moment their belly hits the floor.
- And lastly, as they begin to understand the game better, give them fewer treats, until they play the game for fun, not for a reward.
This is such a great game to play with your dog, and you’ll feel like you’re really bonding with them after playing it. While this game is best played outdoors, if you have enough space in your house, it can also make a great indoor game too!
This game isn’t for you if you don’t have patience. In fact, it will be a few weeks before your german shepherd will be able to play the game properly. However, once they understand what the aim of the game is, it will really test their minds.
(For best results with ring stacking, you should use clicker training.)
- First of all, you’re going to need to find rings and a stick that are a good size for your german shepherd. (When picking both, you’re going to need to pick ones that aren’t going to harm your dog. I find wooden, dye-free ones are your best bet.)
- Next, you’re going to click and give your dog a treat every time they pick the ring up.
- Once they’re used to this begin giving them a treat every time they bring the rings to the stick.
- At this point, you may need to guide the ring onto the stick. When the ring gets onto the stick, click and give them a treat again.
- Remember, you’re german shepherd isn’t going to get this straight away, and it can take a few weeks before they fully understand the game.
- Once they do understand the game though, try shaking things up by placing the stick on a wall, so they now have to place the rings on horizontally. And if they can do that, place the rings in a different room to the stick.
This is one of the most challenging mind games you can play with your german shepherd and it’s really going to test their mental abilities in the early days. So remember, to be patient and take your time with them. Eventually, they’ll understand how to play the game.
Create An Indoor Agility Course
If it’s a rainy day outside, and you want some entertainment for your pup indoors, then this is a great choice.
- Find household items like towels, toys, blankets, and chairs.
- Set them up in an obstacle course style. For example, get your german shepherd to walk around each chair, place towels for them to jump over, or duck under, and then use blankets for an area they have to do a trick.
- Once they become used to the obstacle course, change it up and teach them again.
- The only limit to how difficult the obstacle course has to be is your own imagination.
Indoor agility courses are a great way to keep your german shepherd’s mind entertained, however, of course, they can be annoying to set up and clean up afterward.
The Cup Game
This is a great game to play with your dog, however, it does take a bit of brainpower. And while you can move on to harder versions of the game, if your german shepherd never quite grasps it, then you may have to keep it simple.
- Get two cups and place them in front of your german shepherd. Then put a treat under one cup.
- Once the treat is under the cup let them guess what cup it’s under. However, no matter what they guess, give them the treat anyway. After 10-15 tries, they should begin to understand that every time they guess a cup, they get a treat.
- The next step is to stop giving them a treat if they get the wrong cup. This often takes a lot more time for them to understand. But if they keep practicing then in most cases they’ll soon learn to guess.
- Once they guess the difference between the right cup and the wrong cup you can make it even harder. Begin switching the cups. At this point, your german shepherd may no longer be able to guess.
- You can always try adding another cup to the game as well.
If your german shepherd has trouble guessing it doesn’t mean they’re not smart. Dogs are intelligent in different ways (particularly german shepherds). And if they’re not good at guessing what’s under a cup, then they’ll still be great at many other things.
Showing Them A Magic Trick
If you don’t want to play the cup game with your german shepherd, then there’s also a magic trick that your german shepherd will love to play as well. The premise is pretty similar.
- Let your german shepherd see you place some treats behind you.
- Then put both your hands behind your back and place a treat in one hand. After this, show your german shepherd both hands.
- Once they nuzzle at one hand or show interest in one hand, show them the hand. If it’s empty close your hands again and let them guess the right hand.
- Over time your german shepherd will begin to understand how the game is played and keep on guessing.
The magic trick is a lot easier than the cup game, so if you’re short on time it’s often a great choice.
Hot & Cold
You may have played Hot & Cold with friends before, but did you know you can also teach your german shepherd to play it as well. Hot & Cold works best with a clicker, although you can do it without one too.
One thing to note is that if your german shepherd is easily frustrated, then this may not be the best game for them.
- Pick an item you want your german shepherd to pick up.
- Once they start closing in on the item, give them a treat, click your clicker and say ‘hot’.
- If they start moving away from the item don’t give them a treat or click, simply say ‘cold’.
- As you can tell this is going to take a lot of repetition until they finally pick up what you want them to do.
- However, the moment they pick up what you want them too, give them lots of attention, click the clicker and give them a treat too!
- Over time, they’ll begin to realize what ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ mean and act accordingly.
If you want to shake up a game of fetch with your pup, then obedience fetch can be a great way to do this.
- Throw a ball for your german shepherd as you normally would.
- However, this time when they drop the ball, get them to perform a trick for you.
- Don’t throw the ball until they’ve performed the trick.
- Once they understand what they need to do, you can begin to make it more challenging for them.
- Start getting them to do multiple tricks before you chuck the ball.
- And lastly, to really make it challenging, fire out tricks in quick succession.
This is a great way to train your german shepherd’s mind that doesn’t rely on treats. So if you’re worried that your german shepherd has gained too much weight, then you should definitely give obedience fetch a go!
If your german shepherd has a high repertoire of tricks they know, then the next trick is a great game you can play to keep what they know fresh in their minds.
(This works even better if you already have a click trainer you use with your dog.)
- Get your german shepherd to perform a trick for you, when they do, give them a treat and click.
- Now say to them “next trick”, and give them another treat.
- Keep doing this, until your german shepherd repeats a trick twice. When this happens,` say something like “no we’ve done that…next trick.” Pretty soon they’ll figure out not to do the same trick twice.
- In the early days, your german shepherd isn’t going to understand what’s going on. So you should reward them for anything they do, no matter how vague it is. For example, if they jump at you give them a treat, but if they do it twice then don’t.
- This is another game that takes a lot of patience, but once your pup understands how to play it, it’s a great way of keeping the tricks they know in their minds.
When your german shepherd gets really good a the game you can easily stretch it out for 15-20 minutes.
Big Or Small
This is another incredibly simple game that will also teach your pup a new trick! (However, if they’re overweight, then this isn’t the game for you.)
- Hold a handful of kibble in one hand (5-6 pieces) and one piece in the other.
- Then extend your closed hands in front of your german shepherd and say “big” as you open your hands.
- If your german shepherd goes for the bigger pile, then they can eat them. However, if they go for the smaller pile close your hands and try again.
- Keep doing this, and eventually, your german shepherd will associate the word big with the bigger pile.
- Once your german shepherd has mastered this, you can move onto the second part. Instead of saying big start saying “small”.
- Keep practicing this until they understand what “small” means.
- And once they understand what both words mean, you can really begin to play with them. Now you can start saying big or small when you want and your german shepherd should pick the right pile each time. Just remember, don’t give them the treat until they do.
If you’re tired of cleaning up after your german shepherd, then toy pickup is the best game you can play. Instead of having to pick up all of their toys, they’ll pick them up and put them away all on their own!
- First of all, you’re going to need to teach your german shepherd “drop it”. To do this, give them an item to hold onto. When you want it back, show them a treat and say “drop it”. If your german shepherd drops the toy, then give them the treat. Keep doing this until they know what “drop it” means.
- The next step is to get them to drop a toy into a basket. Simply, guide your german shepherd to a basket when they have the toy in their mouth. Now say “drop it”. At this stage, even if they start walking towards the basket with the toy, or drop the toy near the basket, still reward them.
- When they drop it into the basket on their own, you can even create a new command such as “basket”. This way they can differentiate between “drop it” and “basket”.
- And finally, once they’ve mastered the art of dropping toys into a basket you can take it one step further. Now teach them how to pick up a toy. You can use a command like “ball” every time you give them a ball. Keep doing this and eventually, they’ll know what it means.
- Then all you have to do is say “ball” and when they grab one you can follow with “basket” and they’ll know to put it in the basket!
The Name Game
As you’ve just seen german shepherds are able to remember the names of their toys, so teaching them the name on its own is still a great mind game for your pup! Here’s how to do it in more depth.
- Find a toy you want them to learn, for example, a ball.
- Give them the ball and say “ball”. Every time they take it, give them a treat.
- Keep doing this over a few days, and you’ll notice your german shepherd will begin to know what it means.
- To see how good your german shepherd has gotten say “ball”, when there’s one nearby, if they grab it then you know the word has sunk in.
- Now keep doing this with different toys, and before you know it your german shepherd will know all of them!
Now you know that your german shepherd never has to be bored! There are plenty of different mind games you can play with them, and with lots of variation combined with physical exercise, you’re going to be able to keep your german shepherd entertained for hours!
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