Yuliss began blogging in 2009. Her site is dedicated to Weimaraner's health, fitness and rehoming intervention for families with children.
Try These Game - Than Vote on It!
Feeling Exhausted Trying to Out-Do Your Weimaraner's Energy?
Keeping a Weimaraner mentally active is as important as keeping them physically active. Here are great ways to exercise your dog's brain at any age!
These game can be played indoors or outdoors. They are great to add to your active Weim's stress and energy outlet regime! I hear many Weim owners struggle to get their dogs enough physical exercise and wonder what else can be done.
Well, Weimaraners are incredibly witty and intelligent, so these games have been modified just to challenge their unique level of intellect!
All you need is your dog and a handful of treats. I used to use Milkbone earlier on, than up graded to organic soft chews as Titan got older and needed better quality food that was easy to digest. But no need to feel pressured to buy dog food treats.
You can use the treats you are already using at home, or even use tasty human food for an added bonus! Bacon bits, sausage morsels, broccoli or carrot bits.. Healthy human snacks also make great Weim snacks!
We all know they will eat anything! You can use anything that drives your dog's nose and salivary glands crazy!
Game 1: Seek and Find - Did I or Didn't I?
This type of game is my creation specifically for the Weimaraner breed. Most "googled" dog games have a small discovery challenge that ends with 100% guarantee - look here, find the treat, every time they are rewarded for looking. These are basic seek-and-find games.
I have learned how to take it to the next level. Let me show you how!
The Weimaraner learns fast too; and will get bored with these easy, predictable positive feedback loops.
Seek and Find: Fooling Your Weimaraner Makes Them Even More Engaged
To play this game:
- Have your dog sit in an open area of your house (like the living room) or a clear area of the yard outside.
- With the treats, go around and pretend to plant a treat in various places around the house or yard. Go through the work - you have to make it believable - bend down pretending to place each treat behind an object, or beside an object. Is your dog watching you with great interest?! I'm sure!
- Give you dog a "Go Find!" (that's what we use) or a release command of your choice, to let your dog know it is his or her turn to search for the treats.
- Watch what your dog does - does he or she spend time looking for treats where there are none, but they watched you put one there, so where did it go?!
This game can be played over and over again. Every time will be different. The environment changes, indoors and outdoors for example - this kind of variety is great for a Weimaraner.
The places you pretend to drop the treat compared to where you really drop a treat, you need to switch up often so there is no predictability.
Remember your Weimaraner is a hunter at heart, they thrive with the thrill of a hunt!
Seek and Find For Active Dogs in Their Prime
You can play this activity over again as much as you like, at your discretion. Keep in mind that very young and very old dogs have a short attention span and may not like to look for too long.
Why Playing Outside Adds a Challenge
To enhance the challenge - go outside. There are many more smells in the air that add distraction. There are also many more sights and sounds. The more natural distraction you can create from the environment the more your dog will have to focus on you and the game.
You might find less, or more open space. But your hiding spots will be more creative regardless.
You can also plant more than one actual treat at the end. Try dropping 2-3 treats and still pretending to hide fake ones intermittently between the real treat spots. Encourage your dog to go on and find more, instead of being conditioned to think that finding the treat signifies the end of the game.
Finally, if you have a really keen dog, try hiding the treats when he or she is not looking... Than give the command and see how your dog does without the visual leads, and without set up preparation signifying the start of the game.
My Dog and I
The possibilities of this game are only limited to your individual dog's experience with seek-and-find type activities. If you have developed your dogs brain a lot through similar games, you can use more complex hiding spots and keep increasing the challenges. Think increasing heights and depths of hiding spots - but always consider safety when increasing the challenge.
If it's the first time for you and your dog, keep the hiding spots simple. Even leaving the treats in plain view until your dog gets the point of the exercise. For very beginners, don't even fool your dog. Just do 1:1 hide the treat, encourage finding the treat with immediate positive praise.
My old dog, Titan, still looks forward to playing this game. We can't go too crazy with challenging hiding spots because he does not have the attention span or the experience (we started this game late in his life). But it leaves him mentally exhausted and he sleeps for hours afterwards. I hope you and your dog will have just as much fun with the game too!
Game 2: Magic Cups
Another game you could try, also works on your dog's keen sense of smell. You will need treats, three plastic cups, and a flat surface that the dog can reach.
Have all three cups lined up, but placed upside down. Place a treat under one cup.
Now move all three cups around to make it hard to visually and keep track of the cup with the treat under it.
Magic Cups: Time to Pick The Right One
Get your dog's attention, see if he or she can get the hidden treat under the cup right away or not.
Does your dog smell each cup carefully to find the treat under the right one, or does the dog go for the right one immediately?!
How Titan Did with This Game?
Titan was really good at this game. He used to find the treat cup right away and knock everything over to get to it!
What does your does your dog do?
Game 3: Hide-and-Seek Where Your Weim Seeks You
This dog versus human version of hide-and-seek is so fun! Have your dog "stay" in one area, while you hide yourself under or behind furniture or use some natural obstacles in an outside environment. Than call your dog to "go find" you.
Watch how your dog runs around looking for you, how long does it take? How challenged was your dog with this game? If you are lucky enough to have another human around, you can have them stay with your dog, almost holding the dog back while you hide, than release the dog to go seek you!
How My Weimaraner and I Did At Hide-and-Seek
Titan had fun with this game, and was very good at finding me. He always found me easily and quickly. I could not defeat his sense of smell for me, even in the outdoors.
How did your dog do with Hide-and-Seek?
Enhanced Hide-and-Seek for Witty Weimaraners
You can modify Hide-and-Seek for your Weimaraner by changing your hiding spots during the game.
Better yet - get more people involved in hiding. Now your dog has to learn their scent too and track them to their hiding spot! Definitely a next level challenge!
Game 3: Weimaraner Muffin Tin Puzzle Game
You can make this puzzle at home. All you need is a muffin tin, treats and enough tennis balls to put one in each muffin spot.
- Place a few treats at random in some of the muffin holes. Tips for Weimanraner: leave some muffin holes empty - no treats.
- Cover each muffin hole with a tennis ball, treat or no treat, still place a tennis ball over top. Over the whole muffin tin, each muffin spot should have a tennis ball on top and may or may not contain a treat.
- Then have your dog find which muffin holes actually contain a treat, they will knock the tennis ball off to get to the reward.
Weimaraner and Muffin Tin Game
Game 4: Dog Bone Puzzle Toy
I never got to try the muffin tin puzzle with Titan as I only learned about it after he had past away. But he did get to try commercially produced dog puzzles. His favorite was this puzzle bone toy.
The puzzle bone was a large blue, plastic bone-shaped puzzle that had multiple, sliding layers of various treats. The layers would slide and rotate in all directions as he sniffed and pushed for treats. The layers would spin around sometimes revealing treats - sometimes not.
I liked that this toy was great for passive play. I could watch instead of participate. We first tried it at our therapeutic swimming spa.
The owner would set Titan up with the Bone Puzzle Toy to be used for times when we had to wait for a few minutes. Such as for his spa swimming appointments in old age. The spa had one in the lobby so that dogs could be entertained as the owners checked in the dog for their weekly therapeutic swim.
For this reason I find this a great toy for Weimaraners in the private, home setting, or in a public, commercial setting like dog spas, dog daycares and veterinary offices. This fun game helps takes the dog's mind of any stress associated with the appointment and provides distraction.
Game 5: Dental Ball Kong Play Gives Weim a Long Chew
Many people enjoy stuffing a Kong with a healthy treat, or even peanut butter (just be aware of allergies for you and the dog!). Titan enjoyed his Dental Ball Dog Kong too! The long chew is challenging for the dog as they have to maneuver the toy to free the treat or lick up all the peanut butter.
I liked using this Dental Ball Kong Toy for Titan because of the unique rounded shape. The fill holes had soft, pliable flaps to keep dry treats in, and added challenge to getting them out. It was fun to passively watch Titan bite the Kong to free the treats.
Game 6 : Weimaraners Can Clean Up
Another game you could try is to teach your dog to clean up. Weimanraners are capable of learning between 165-200 words on average. Much more than typical dogs! That's just verbal communication.
Did you know that non-verbal communication is even stronger for dogs? So think about all that vocabulary, plus intuitive body language recognition! No wonder Weimarnaers are so brilliant!
They can learn the name of their toys and can be taught to carry their toys back to a basket, and "drop it". Your dog will not know they are cleaning up, they will think it's another exciting game of "find it".
It may take the most time and patience to play this game with your dog, since it has so many variations. You have to give a specific name to all your dog's toys. You have to reinforce the chosen name, your dog has to associate the given name with the specific toy. Than you have to train your dog to find the toy basket and bring it over and "drop it".
This is a game for advanced dogs who excel at the previous games discussed. Let me know if you are brave enough to attempt this!
How Would Titan Have Cleaned Up?
Unfortunately, my dog Titan passed away before I learned about this game. So I never had an opportunity to try it with him. But he did have a bunch of toys we kept in a cardboard box. He learned the name of his toys because we named them and encouraged it out of fun.
"Where's Big Al?", his rubber alligator, or,
"Where's loofah?" his crazy dog loofah stuffy, he chewed the rear end off of.
He would pick them out of the cardboard box, or show them to us where ever they were on the floor. But we never thought to take it one step more and teach him to put them back.
Does your dog know the name of his or her toys?
Foraging Mat: Dog Enrichment
A newer way to have your dog be entertained is to use a "Snuffle" or Foraging Mat. These soft, cloth mats encourage independent dog play of sniff-and-find. The colors, folds and textures, keeps your Weimaraner engaged while keeping their brain active. The best part is these mats are easy to wash, and store. So you will not have a lot of clean-up to do after play - and no one has to know when you have guests over that your dog has a Snuffle Mat!
Weimaraners are high-energy, very active dogs. They love to chew and forage and they require hours of physical and mental exercise each day. Many new and experienced Weimaraner owners struggle to keep their dog's behaviour less destructive and mischievous through exercise alone and they have asked me for the best game selections specific for the Weimaraner's active, focused attention and advanced intelligence.
I am happy to share with you the games and strategies that worked for Titan and I, and how we were able to modify our games for more of a challenge. I have a wealth of experience with Weims and have a rich social network where our fans have even shared their game modifications (for example the muffin tin game).
The snuffle mat is the newest edition to this post and provides Weimaraners of all ages the challenge of finding treats while offering canine enrichment through colour, texture and shape. Try these games with your Weim and let us know how they worked for you!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Yuliss
What Did You & Your Dog Think of These Games?
Charlu from Florida on June 21, 2011:
Great hub and Memories is right they need both. Great ideas and a great hub
Memories1932 on June 20, 2011:
Thank you for this great hub. For dogs mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. We play this game with our Border Collie and he loves it.