Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
It’s no secret that Dobermans have A LOT of energy and require plenty of stimulation to be calm, satisfied, and well-behaved.
After trying many forms of mental stimulation over the years, I’ve boiled it down to my top eight. The following games, tips, and tricks will help you give your Dobie the stimulation that they need.
8 Ways To Give Your Doberman More Mental Stimulation:
- Socialize him more
- Nose work games
- Toy naming
- Basic command training
- Hide and seek
- Interactive puzzle toys
- Increase general engagement & interaction
- Agility training
I will explain all of these in detail, their benefits, and how you can implement them.
8 Ways To Give Your Doberman More Mental Stimulation
Ok, let’s get your Dobie’s mind working, engaged, and finally… tired! As the famous quote goes, a tired dog is a happy dog.
1. Increase Socialization
You must have heard this a million times already. But there’s a good reason for that. Socialising is so important for dogs of all ages, especially puppies and adolescents. Proper social exposure ensures your Dobie learns how to behave and act around new dogs, new people, and in new places.
Sniffing each other’s butts, playing, play fighting, barking, and more sniffing… It’s all good and immensely important. A well-socialized dog is a friendly dog, an obedient dog, and in general a calmer dog.
It’s the ultimate source of mental stimulation, and a short session of interacting with another dog will leave your Dobie feeling VERY satisfied.
How To Do It:
You can either visit the dog park more often, have friends with their dogs come around to yours, or visit doggie playgroups in your area for the purpose of socializing. Just ensure you have control over the situation and always take caution in advance.
2. Nose Work Games
If you haven’t heard of nose work games before, you’re in for a treat! They are super fun and extremely stimulating for your Dobie. Nose work games essentially mean finding treats using their sense of smell and their muzzle.
By encouraging your Dobie to use his sense of smell, which is their most powerful sense, his brain will be working overtime with excitement trying to solve the problem. 20 minutes of nose work games will provide a potent dose of mental stimulation.
How To Do It:
The easiest game to start off with is hiding a treat and encouraging him to find it. Now, to begin with, your Dobie may not have a scoobie-doo of what’s going on! That’s normal.
To initiate the game, give your Dobie a treat to gain his attention. Then, have your partner distract him (or take him to another room) while you hide a treat behind the door, or under a cushion.
Then, bring him in, and use an easy command like “find it” repeatedly, guiding him in the direction of the treat. Make the first attempt REALLY easy for him (you can even show him eventually).
This sets the game, now repeat the process but change the location, and use the same command “find it”.
Your Dobie will understand exactly what the game is in no time at all. It’s really fun, simple, and incredibly effective.
Psst. A quick update on Doberman training! Brain Training For Dogs could be the best training approach we’ve seen for Dobie pups. Results show improvement in obedience and behavior quicker than we thought possible! Check it out.
3. Give His Toys Names
Errr, creepy? Yes, it is a little. But it’s a great training game that your Doberman will love. Fun fact: this game was inspired by a border collie who can successfully identify the names of 1000 toys. I still can’t believe how she has one thousand toys, to begin with!
Why is this good? well, it’s another form of training that will encourage your Dobie to think before he acts. Once he starts to understand the game, you can easily make it progressively harder by adding an extra toy. It’s a great game that will leave him feeling very accomplished and satisfied.
How To Do It:
Start with just two different toys. Hold one in each hand, both behind your back. Bring one of them out in front of you and let your Dobie sniff it, chew it, lick it and smell it, you must choose a name and constantly repeat the name while he does this. Then, remove that toy, and do the same with the other (changing the name).
After having done this with both toys. Have your Dobie sit and stay while you place both toys on the floor away from each other. Instead of saying “go”, say the name of one toy. Hopefully, your Dobie gets it right (which he most likely will).
If he doesn’t, don’t worry, it’s a new game that may take a few tries. Keep going and eventually, he’ll be able to handle several toys. Give it a try! It proves just how clever your Dobie can be!
4. Basic Command Training
Basic command training is one of those basic things that often gets overlooked or forgotten about. But regardless of how elementary these kinds of commands are, they are the true foundation of any obedient dog.
By running through 30 minutes per day of sit, stay, come, down, and paw commands, your Dobie will be thoroughly entertained and mentally engaged. Plus, in the meantime, you are successfully nurturing an extremely obedient Dobie that will listen to your every command. This obedience will spread across all aspects of daily life.
How To Do It:
Grab a handful of tiny morsel treats like Zukes Mini Naturals, and start running through each command like “sit” “stay” “come here” “down” and “paw”. As your Dobie masters each one, get creative a make it a little more challenging. For example, ask him to “sit” and walk to another room before making him “come”. This is a step up from a simple sit command remaining in the same room.
Always reward him for correct actions.
5. Hide and Seek!
This one is quite self-explanatory! I thought the games of hide and seek would literally never end with my niece and nephew, and I was right because now I play it with my dog too.
Hide and seek is a very fun and exciting game for your Doberman. But be ready, when he finds you, he’ll go bonkers!
How To Do It:
The easiest way to start playing this game is when your Dobie doesn’t expect it. Whenever he’s in another room or downstairs doing his own thing, hide behind a door or under the covers, and give him one big call. If he doesn’t come call him again until you hear him trying to find you.
His mind will be working overtime trying to figure out where you are and whats’ going on. And don’t get too competitive! lol… If you’re a professional hider, be sure not to make it too hard otherwise his excitement may turn to frustration, which isn’t good.
6. Interactive Puzzle Toys
What kind of mental stimulation list would this be if it didn’t contain interactive puzzle toys!?
These are toys that encourage your Dobie to solve a problem in order to release a treat. There are different levels of puzzle toys, some being hard and others being easy. Some toys are suitable for him to play on his own with and others will need you to assist.
Puzzle toys are awesome because your Dobie will constantly smell the treat that awaits him. Some of them encourage him to slide, push, and move certain elements of the toy in order to expose the treat. This proves to be really rewarding for dogs of all breeds and ages.
How To Do It:
You’ll have to invest in a few toys like the Star Mark Bob A Lot, The Snuffle Matt, or a Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toy.
The first two on that list are ones he can play with himself, and the Nina Ottosson toy is best for when you are there. You just set the toy up and let him figure out how to get the treat.
7. Increase General Engagement & Interaction
This one is a little broader and unspecific than the others, but it’s just as powerful. What I mean by general engagement and interaction is just spending more time with your Dobie, playing with him, focusing on him, giving him your attention, and even talking to him.
By giving him more of you, he’ll be more entertained and satisfied in general. It’s no secret that Dobies develop strong bonds with their owners and dislike being away from them for long periods of time.
So whenever you aren’t busy, spend time with your Dobie and give him your undivided attention. He’ll appreciate it and it will be very rewarding for him.
8. Agility Training
Dobermans are lean, athletic, and muscular dogs. A true working dog that thrives from physical exercise just as much as mental exercise. Agility training is like exercise 2.0.
Agility courses encourage your Dobie to jump, weave, duck, run, and of course, think! It may take your Doberman a little while to figure out how to follow the course properly but once he does, he’ll only improve each time.
How To Do It:
Fortunately, you can buy dog agility sets online from Amazon. They usually come with tunnels for your Dobie to crawl through, hurdles to jump over, and beams to go under or again jump over.
If you are handy with woodwork, you may be able to create your own!
Start by setting up the course and try your best to bring your Dobie alongside you around it. You can even jump over a few of the hurdles yourself to show him what to do!
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Why Is Mental Stimulation Important For Dobermans
Another way you could describe mental stimulation is like exercise for the brain. And everyone knows just how important physical exercise is, right? Well, mental exercise is equally as important! Yet it is often neglected.
Without sufficient mental exercise, it doesn’t matter how much physical exercise you give your Dobie, he’ll never truly be “tired” or satisfied. And as the famous quote goes… “A tired dog is a happy dog”. And boy is that true!
As a breed with a strong working background, Dobermans need to have challenges, they need to solve problems and feel like they are useful to their pack and to their owner. This is what makes them well-behaved, calm, and obedient. Without it, frustration, boredom, and hyperactivity continue.
Here are several of the benefits that sufficient mental stimulation can bring:
● Reduces anxiety and stress
● Reduces chances of depression
● Prevents destructive behavior
● Helps to reduce hyperactivity
● Increases overall obedience
● Increases overall happiness
● Increases overall intelligence
● Keeps your Doberman’s brain healthy
As you can see, those are some pretty life-changing benefits to be had from adequate mental stimulation.
How Much Mental Stimulation Does a Doberman Need?
So, how much is enough? Well, it’s hard to give a specific amount of mental stimulation per day and honestly, there isn’t a right or wrong answer.
The more the better. Is probably the most fitting answer… The more you can engage your Doberman’s mind, the more he’ll reap the rewards of satisfaction, happiness, obedience, and your attention.
Keeping up with basic command training every day should be considered a mandatory activity. That alone will involve 20-30 minutes of mental stimulation.
After that, you can play some nose work games, or invite your friends over for a couple of hours with their dog. There are many easy ways to incorporate more mental stimulation into his day.
As so many activities can go towards daily mental stimulation, it can be hard to measure it. But in general, the more the better as there are virtually no downsides.
There are many tips to try but don’t worry about doing all of them, focus on one or two and try to do more of those every day consistently. Your Dobie will be immensely grateful!
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Thank you for reading! I really hope your questions on mental stimulation were answered, and now you have some actionable tips and tricks to try today! Have an awesome day with your Dobie!