Can Brain Games Improve Your Dog’s Smarts?

If you’ve ever done a crossword puzzle in the sake of staving off aging, know that you’ve successfully played a brain game. These types of challenges are commonly used in aging adults experiencing cognitive decline, and now researchers in Vienna, Austria, are thinking that aging dogs could benefit from this type of training, too, as reported by Dogster.


Over 200 dogs were studied by The Clever Dog Lab, including 100 pet border collies along with an impressive additional 115 breeds. It was the idea that through recording the dogs’ progress learning increasingly difficult tasks—all centered around food rewards and a touchscreen game—and requesting feedback from the owners, the researchers would be able to discover whether brain games lead to improved cognitive function.




Unfortunately, there were no statistically significant results to prove the touchscreen’s efficacy. However, what the study did note was the overwhelming amount of qualitative evidence that suggests brain games are effective at improving your dog’s smarts in older age. And while this idea ultimately needs a lot more research to be factually proven, it’s never too early (or too often) to play with your puppy.


According to a report in National Geographic, The Clever Dog Lab is planning on looking into both whether the touchscreen can decrease a dog’s cortisol—the stress hormone—and increase a dog’s dopamine, the chemical responsible for pleasure.


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Rachel Zoldan

Rachel Jacoby Zoldan is a freelance writer and editor living in New York City with her husband two cats, Gerry and Cookie. (Who are, yes, named after a film about dogs.)

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