What is brainwork?
Brainwork is a collection of mental puzzles for your dog. The task for our pet is to work out the various mechanisms of a toy to get to the treat hidden inside. Brainwork differs from olfactory games in that, at a certain stage, the dog no longer uses his sense of smell – he is left to think.
Brainwork – handmade toys
Ideas for homemade toys abound, and we can use various everyday objects to create them ourselves. For example, in an aluminium muffin tray – put treats or dog crisps in the space provided for the muffins and cover them with balls (if you have a dog excitable to balls, you can swap them for jar lids). The dog’s nose or paw has to move the balls and then scoop the treats out of the cupcake holes.
Various boxes, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls or large sticky tape will also be great for creating a mind toy for your dog. In addition, we can put pieces of material cut andfoldedd in various ways and a large number of treats inside, and finally, close the package and it’s done! Now our dog only has to use his nose to open the lid of the container and can enjoy his reward.
We can also make a toy out of a piece of material and an empty plastic bottle, an openwork ball (as in the first photo) or a slow bowl. We put a few treats in the bottle and we can hide the rest in the fabric and push it into the holes of our toy. Remember to keep a bit of the fabric sticking out – the dog’s job is to pull on it so that the food falls out of the bottle, so he needs something to grab onto.
How do you build up brainwork training?
Gradually – grading the difficulty of the brainwork toys prevents frustration, which, in the early stages of your brainwork adventure, can lead to toys being destroyed or treats being given up. So start with very simple tasks – for example, hiding a treat in a box or basket under a piece of cloth – and slowly increase the difficulty of the exercise. We should not leave the brain toys alone with the dog so that he does not destroy them. If our pet has trouble getting the treats out, the toy may be too difficult for him and he will need our help. During play, we should also cheer and praise our pet for his successes!
In brainwork, it will also be helpful to establish a completely new command (e.g. think or combine), other than search, which is usually dedicated to olfactory play so that the dog does not confuse these activities. Here, at a certain stage, the dog stops working with his sense of smell and relies on his abilities to think and solve the problems set before him.
Why is it important to practice brainwork with your dog?
Brainwork develops your dog’s cognitive abilities and teaches him to focus and solve new tasks. It is also a great activity for insecure and anxious dogs – by solving mental tasks, dogs gain confidence, openness and boldness. Brainwork games should be a joint activity between us and the dog so that we strengthen the relationship we share. Such exercises are also a great way to keep your dog occupied at home and tire your dog’s head out!