How important is brain work for your dog?

In addition to physical challenge (think hiking, swimming or sports), a dog also needs mental challenge. Putting your dog's brain to work stimulates various senses and results in a satisfied and relaxed dog. A fun way to mentally challenge your dog is in the form of brain work. In this blog you will read what brainwork exactly entails and we will tell you more about how you can go on a sniffing adventure with your dog.



What is brain work?  

Brain work is searching for a reward in different types of materials and objects. Dogs are hereby mentally challenged and encouraged to use their noses. They have to think creatively to get their reward. Various senses are stimulated in the process; after all, your dog has to look, feel and smell carefully. In the search for his reward, the dog can in fact use not only his nose but also his paws and mouth to move, lift or push something, for example. As a result, your dog constantly gains new insights and may even gain self-confidence through brain work, as he learns to overcome obstacles.

How you start brain work for your dog?

You can brain work with your dog in many different ways. The important thing to remember is that the level of play should match your dog's level. Do you and your dog want to start brainwork? Then start with simple games, guide your dog and reward him well when he finds the snack or object. This way, brainwork stays fun for your dog and you prevent your dog from getting frustrated or giving up early.

Necessities for brain work

Brainwork is suitable for any dog, regardless of your four-legged friend's breed or age. It is also suitable for any budget, because brainwork can be done at home with materials you probably already have at home. Nothing is too crazy for brainwork; in fact, you can make a puzzle out of any material. Think of egg cartons, toilet rolls, plastic containers or cardboard boxes where you can hide the reward. Old clothes or a towel are also suitable for brainwork. Put the reward in here, roll it up and you have a great puzzle for your dog!

Besides the materials you probably already have at home, there are also special durable puzzles for sale. Often these puzzles have multiple levels, so you can start easy and build up the difficulty. This way, you and your dog can get along for a while and have a long time of fun with a puzzle.

There are also so-called 'sniffing mats'. These mats consist of strings of fabric in which you can hide the reward. You can make your own sniffing mat or buy one.

Other alternatives include a Kong Classic or a Lickimat. Both objects you can fill with a snack or some canned food, so your dog has to work to get his reward.

Riverwood's Mono Protein cans are ideal for this. View the wet food assortment here. Want your dog to snack responsibly? Then check out Riverwood's snack assortment here.

In short, it makes no difference whether you choose a ready-made puzzle or get creative yourself to make a fun brain toy for your dog; there are endless possibilities for mentally challenging your dog.

Brain work is team work! 

Besides being good for your dog's mental state, brainwork also helps improve the bond between you and your four-legged friend. Brainwork is something you do together at all times: you come up with the puzzle, your dog solves it and you reward him. Make sure you keep brainwork safe and never leave your dog alone. Also, make sure your dog doesn't eat any loose objects, such as pieces of plastic or paper. Notice that your dog finds the puzzle too difficult? Then step back, help him where necessary and make sure you don't make the game too long. By keeping the sessions short, your dog will keep his concentration. Have lots of sniffing fun!


Lots of dogs are already enjoying Riverwood every day. Would you like your dog to enjoy our delicious food and are you curious which variety would suit your dog best? Then answer a few questions here and order an inexpensive sample pack right away.