15 Stimulating Mental Exercises for German Shepherds (You Must Try!)

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Are you looking for fun, stimulating mental exercises for German Shepherds to keep their minds sharp and their brain’s happy?

You’re in the right spot! 

These fun brain exercises provide your German Shepherd mental stimulation to reduce boredom and increase good behaviors.

You’ll feel relieved after you learn just a handful of these exercises that increase your GSDs brainpower!

1. Food Seek and Find

food seek and find at home
Hiding their food helps your dog use their noses to explore.

Mental stimulation with a food seek and find keeps your dog sharp by using their noses. You don’t need any tools to play this game, just their usual kibble.

  • You can use this game indoors or out in your yard or garden.
  • Take your dog’s regular kibble and drop a few pieces in front of them so they see you.
  • Now hide a few pieces around the house or yard while they watch and encourage them to find the food.
  • Next, work up to hiding a complete meal while they don’t see you and wait in another area.

German Shepherds have a keen sense of smell, and many learn to track. Your dog will catch on quickly to this food hunt.

2. Food Puzzles

Food puzzles are brain games that keep your dog working for their treats. 

Here’s how to use this mental stimulation activity:

  • Get them used to their new toy by allowing them to sniff and explore the toy. Use this stimulating box game to introduce them to puzzles.
  • Next, place their food in the puzzle. Show them how to find food and encourage them to find the food on their own.
  • Once they are finished with the first round, keep refilling the food puzzle until their meal is complete.

If you want to feed your dog the right foods, then read this list of healthy, tasty treats for German Shepherds.

3. Special Delivery

Use packaging materials for mentally stimulating acitivities
Used packaging material makes great entertainment.

The Special Delivery game uses common mailing items as hiding places for their treats. 

You don’t have to serve their entire meal this way, just use a few special tasty bits to entice them to play.

  • Use a clean box that came in the mail. If there’s brown packaging paper included, that’s even better!
  • Place pieces of kibble or treats inside the brown paper wrap. You can also use paper towels if you don’t have brown packaging paper. 
  • Squish the brown paper or paper towels together to wrap around the kibble.
  • Fold the box flaps back down, but don’t tape them. Encourage your dog or puppy to look for their food.

When they are finished, refill the brown paper packaging or paper towel balls and start again.

4. Milk Jug or Water Bottle Feeder

Clean, empty water bottle for an interactive food feeding game
Clean water bottles or milk jugs are inexpensive mental exercise games.

Another simple and easy game to put together is a bottle treat dispenser. 

The bottle slides and moves to make the game more interesting for both puppies and adults. 

This is best for dogs that don’t immediately chew an item out of frustration.

  • Save a large water bottle or milk jug. Make sure they are clean and dry.
  • Place a handful of your dog’s kibble inside. But leave the top off the bottle and place this out of reach so they don’t eat it.
  • Let your dog turn, paw and shake the bottle so the kibble falls out.
  • Repeat when empty to finish their meal.
  • Replace the bottle regularly as they become dirty or worn.

The larger the opening, the easier the food will fall out. Always watch your dog and make sure they don’t accidentally start chewing the plastic.

5. Ball Pit Delight

Ball pits for mental stimulation and activity
Ball pits aren’t just for kids!

A small kid’s swimming pool filled with colorful play balls makes a fun game to stimulate your German Shepherd.

Try this game with your puppy to help them gain their confidence as they wade and search for their reward.

  • Find an inexpensive child’s pool and place a few old towels in the bottom to prevent any slipping and sliding on the surface.
  • Fill the tub with plastic play balls.
  • Throw in your dog’s treats or part of their dinner and let them explore the ball pit! 
  • You may have to show them you placed a tasty reward in the balls for them to understand the game.
  • Help them move the balls around at first so they learn to search for their food.

If you think your German Shepherd needs more physical activity, then read this helpful exercise guide for German Shepherds.

6. Muffin Tin Dispenser

muffin tin dispenser for a mentally challenging game
Old muffin tins and tennis balls make a great combination.

In this game, you’ll need a muffin baking tray and plenty of tennis balls. 

Setup this game by doing this:

  • Place a few bits of their food or treats in the muffin tins and a tennis ball over the top.
  • You can leave some muffin tins without a tennis ball to make the game easier to start or for puppies learning about brain games.
  • When your dog is finished, refill the muffin tins. 
  • To make the game interesting leave some tins without food, but still cover the compartment with a tennis ball.
  • This makes your dog use his nose more and gives a surprise when they find the food in some compartments but not in others.

It’s best to play this game on the carpet so the muffin tray doesn’t slide about and make a big mess, or frustrate your dog too much since they also need to use their paws or noses to move the tennis ball.

7. Frozen Kong Delight

black kong extreme treat dispensing toy for brain stimulation activities
A Kong is a necessity for German Shepherds.

By far, my German Shepherd enjoys this mental exercise the best, as the food seems to last longer and keep her quiet. 

Get out your trusty indestructible German Shepherd proof Kong toy.

  • Place a mixture of moistened kibble into the center. I like to add a few teaspoons of unflavored Greek yogurt mixed into the food for extra encouragement.
  • Set this into the freezer for a few hours to stiffen up.
  • When frozen, give to your dog for a tasty mealtime surprise! 

This is best served in an area that’s easy to clean, like outdoors or a hard floor in the kitchen.

8. Tupperware Surprise

Tupperware containers make great items for mental exercise
Plastic food storage containers make a fun food and seek game.

I’m sure most of us have extra plastic food storage containers lying around or missing their lids. 

Put them to use with this game.

  • Place several pieces of plastic food storage containers upside down, without their lids, over a handful of kibble.
  • You can put the food storage containers all in one room or place them in multiple rooms for a seek and find activity.
  • Encourage your dog to go find the kibble. 

They must figure out how to turn the container over with their paws or nose – which is tricky for some dogs, especially for puppies.

Use this mental exercise inside or outside, depending on the weather. If you want other ideas for how to increase your German Shepherd’s life span, then check out my tips for lengthening your companion’s life span.

9. Mini Presents

mental exercises with my german shepherd
My GSD enjoying her wrapped present!

This game also uses empty cardboard tubes from paper towels or toilet paper. 

You’ll need a few of them to start this brain exercise.

  • Place their kibble in brown shipping paper or a clean paper towel.
  • Next, wrap the kibble up securely and place the wrapped kibble inside the cardboard tubes.
  • Encourage your dog to explore the tubes. This is my German Shepherd enjoying the game of finding treats in cardboard tubes.

As simple as this sounds the game keeps my German Shepherd busy as she has to delicately remove the kibble from the boxes or toilet roll tubes stuff with kibble and paper.

Supervise your dog to ensure your dog doesn’t eat the pieces of cardboard or paper packaging.

10. The Mad Scientist Game

mad scientist game for mental stimulation
Let your GSD unleash their scientific powers!

To watch your GSD perform their mad scientist routine you’ll need this dog chemistry set which is a fun, interactive toy! 

This game really gets an active Shepherd moving and keeps them occupied!

  • Setup the mad scientist game by selecting which level of challenge your dog needs. There Are different lids that make the game easier or harder, depending on which one you choose.
  • Show your dog that flipping and turning the plastic beakers release treats. Encourage them to try on their own.
  • Let your dog paw and spin the beakers as the kibble drops and watch happiness light upon their faces!

11. Mental IQ Ball Challenge

treat dispensing ball for brain exercises
Keep your dog entertained and stimulated with a mental IQ ball.

Who says mental games are only challenging the mind when you have a ball IQ toy

If you’re wondering what to do with your puppy’s endless energy or your Shepherd’s need to herd, then this is the game for you!

As your dog chases the ball they burn extra calories while trying to release their treats. Place their kibble meal or another dry treat inside the ball and adjust the level of difficulty to help provide a challenge to their minds and bodies.

You can take this game fully apart for cleaning, so if your dog is a first-class drooler you can easily clean their toys.

12. Tunnel Dash

agility tunnel for mental stimulation and fun
Collapsible tunnels make your dog excited!

Owners of our high energy breed will appreciate teaching their dog both indoor agility to challenge their minds and outdoor agility – to challenge their minds and use their energy!

With an outdoor agility kit, even those owners living remotely or who don’t want to pay for agility training can give their German Shepherds the mental and physical stimulation they deserve.

Start with a dog training tunnel that suits your large breed’s size.

You may have to entice your dog through the tunnel by placing them at one eat and having them wait while you walk to the other. But German Shepherds love this type of mental stimulation and are expert tunnel runners!

13. The Weaving Wonder

the weaving wonder mental exercise activity for smart german shepherds
Weave poles are a mental exercise challenge.

If your dog enjoys high energy activities, then add to your agility set by purchasing the famous weave poles

Your athletic Shepherd will love to use their brains and their agility to figure out the best way to quickly maneuver through the weave poles. 

Begin by walking ahead of your dog through the weave poles and have them follow you. Reward them when they make it to the end.

Don’t forget that you own a high-energy breed and must meet their physical need for exercise, too. Learn all about the right ways to exercise your German Shepherd for complete health and fitness.

14. Help Them Become Bilingual

learning a second language for mental activity
Teach your German Shepherd the German language!

While you do most communication with your dog through body language, you can increase their mental stimulation by teaching them commands in another language. 

Some GSD owners prefer their dog to understand both English and German commands for fun and competitions.

You only need a bit of time and a very basic understanding of a few commands to play this game.

Don’t fancy learning German?

Then work on advanced German Shepherd commands for the ultimate in mental stimulation!

15. Advanced Mental Exercise and Stimulation

blue and yellow dog brain game puzzle shaped as a bone
Your highly intelligent breed calls for advanced training.

Your highly intelligent breed calls for advanced training.

Is your dog a master thinker or do they need a more challenging mental exercise? 

With this multi-level brain game puzzle, your dog can challenge their advanced mental skills. 

Your dog rotates the many layers in various directions with their nose or paw to find the hidden snacks.

Your companion will love the reward of a job well done and they’ll definitely have to put their thinking cap on for this game.

Why Include Mental Exercises for Your German Shepherd for Stimulation?

Your dog or puppy has many senses. 

They can see, hear, touch, smell, and think. Many dogs living in our modern, busy lives lack mental stimulation.

In the wild, your dog would work alongside their pack or alone to track down prey using their senses. They would then plan an attack, using their mental abilities. 

Using all these senses during play helps your dog gain confidence in themselves and in their abilities. New experiences ignite portions of their brains to keep them engaged in their environments. 

An engaged dog is a happy, better-behaved dog!

The more consistent you are using mental exercise the more benefits you’ll see. Include 2 or 3 new mental exercises for your German Shepherd a week to begin.

Helping Your Clever Shepherd

Mental exercises for German Shepherds build their confidence and increase their interest in life.

Don’t limit your creativity or your GSDs abilities! You’ll be surprised how smart your dog is and how much interest they’ll show in these easy, mental brain activities. There’s such a variety of German Shepherd mental stimulation to choose from you’ll love trying different games to find what your dog likes. 

Creative thinking owners like yourself provide their German Shepherds with the ultimate in mental exercise and happiness by increasing their dog’s mental exercise.

Have you read my review about online brain training for dogs, an innovative and scientifically-based program to increase your dog’s intelligence?

Check out the program for your intelligent breed for more mental exercises for your German Shepherd!

Any money spent on proper training will give you a tenfold return on your investment in the future. 

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