dog-game-pawsh-magazine-01According to recent scientific studies, the average dog has the equivalent intelligence level of a two-year-old human child. And if you’ve ever been afforded the task of entertaining a two-year-old child, you know that they are a bursting with energy and require a great deal of mental stimulation.

The same is true of our furkids. A couple of walks each day is not enough to satisfy their busy little brains and a bored dog usually suffers from mild depression or destructive behaviour. Indeed, dogs thrive most when put to ‘work’ learning new tricks, skills and, dare I say, concepts.

So today, in the spirit of encouraging mental well-being among dogs, I am delighted to share with you a fun DIY thinking game for dogs that will enhance their ‘hunting’ and ‘seeking’ instincts, as well as their natural curiousity. Presenting the “Magic Cups Dog Game.”
dog-games-pawsh-magazine-1a WHAT IS ‘MAGIC CUPS?’
Inspired by the classic childhood shell game, ‘Magic Cups’ uses three plastic cups and one tennis ball (or a similar beloved toy) to create a mental hunt for your dog.


  • a hard level surface
  • three plastic cups
  • one tennis ball
  • time to play with your dog

dog-games-pawsh-magazine-3HOW DO I PLAY?
Firstly, find a nice open space with hardwood in which to play — a hallway or quiet corner of the living room will do. Instruct your dog to ‘sit’ or ‘lay down.’ Line up all three cups infront of your dog and tell them to ‘wait’ as you hide the ball under one cup.

Shuffle the cups around in front of your dog and then tell them to ‘find it.‘ You may need to encourage your dog to tap the cups over at first until them get the hang of it.

When they successfully find the ball, reward them with lots of praise and a quick play with the ball, then repeat. If played enough you will notice your dog start to ‘track’ the hidden cup — they are thinking about where their toy is moving to.
dog-games-pawsh-magazine-4CAN I PLAY ‘MAGIC CUPS’ BY HIDING A TREAT?
I personally recommend using a toy of some sort that your dog adores instead of a treat. This is because the objective of this game is fun and entertainment, not food. Sometimes we allow our dogs to become so food-driven that they have little interest in anything else.

Make play the reward in this game for a better bonding experience and increased mental stimulation. Not sure your dog will respond to a toy reward? Try having a toy of some sort that is used only exclusively when playing this game.

dog-games-pawsh-magazine-2WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS GAME?
The benefits of playing ‘Magic Cups’ with your dog is three-fold. Firstly, it offers varied mental stimulation for your dog. Secondly, the game itself offers an opportunity to work on basic training commands, such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay,’ which adds even more focus to the set up and therefore forces your dog to use their brain even more. Thirdly, it is fun for your dog and an opportunity for you both to bond.

NOTE: Do not leave your dog unsupervised with the plastic cups, as they are not designed for chewing purposes and could be hazardous to your dog’s health if accidentally ingested.

This game is highly recommended for rainy days, early mornings (because it doesn’t require any physical exertion from you, so sip your coffee and play), as well as road trips. The components of this game are easy to pack and even easier to bring out at a pitstop.

Have fun with it everyone! xo

{Huge thanks to my incredible friend and talented artist Tonya Pet Photography for photographing this special “Pet Wellness” column. And thanks to Gus the adorable dog model!}


This article was made possible by DogTrot Fitness — Canada’s exclusive distributor of the PetRun line of dog treadmills.
dog-treadmills-dogtrot-fitness-pawsh-magazineAdequate exercise is equally important to your dog’s wellness as a healthy diet.  Even if you can’t run WITH your dog, we can help you meet his exercise needs, regardless of weather. With running decks scaled to suit any stride, there’s a PetRun treadmill for every size of dog!