Video Games for Dogs Exist, and They Make Your Dog Smarter

Keeping your dog healthy is a priority for pet owners. Owners take their dogs on walks and feed them nutritious meals. But mental health might be overlooked compared to physical health. Enter: video games for dogs. Continue reading to learn how video games can make your dog smarter.

Video games benefit dogs

Dog touch screen game

A university sought ways to increase brain training in older dogs. | Vetmeduni Vienna via YouTube

Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna conduct a study about dogs using video games. “Regular brain training and lifelong learning create positive emotions and can slow down mental deterioration in old age,” according to the study. However, video games for dogs will take time to be available to the public.

Hint: Don’t listen to this old saying.

Can old dogs learn new tricks?

Happy Dog Border Terrier Looking into the Distance in Czech Mountain Krkonose

Keep your senior dogs happy and active. | jarafoti/iStock/Getty Images

An old dog can learn new tricks, contrary to the saying. According to cognitive biologists involved with the study, dogs should continue to learn new tricks as they age. “The positive feeling created by solving a mental challenge is comparable to the feeling that older people have when they learn something new, doing something they enjoy,” said Ludwig Huber, senior author of the study.

Hint: Continue teaching your dog new tricks.

Training must continue

Silhouette of a female as training her dog

Don’t stop teaching them as they get older. | Wavetop/iStock/Getty Images

Researchers from the study suggest dog owners continue training their dogs as they get older. “Old dogs are almost never trained or challenged mentally,” according to the study. Continuing their training and challenging their brains with new tricks will keep them sharp mentally. “Dogs are capable of learning even in old age, and constant brain training and mental problem-solving create positive emotions and slow the natural pace of mental deterioration,” the study said.

Hint: Use positive reinforcement.

Follow a simple training program

domestic dog waiting for biscuit in the garden

Use a rewards-based system. | Pakornkrit/iStock/Getty Images

“Simple mental tasks on the computer, combined with a reward system, can replace physically demanding training and still keep the animals mentally fit even in old age,” according to the study. And training an old dog doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Try teaching your dog a new trick or two.

Hint: Production of this chemical decreases in old age.

Dog brains are similar to human brains

German Shepherd standing outside

They need to keep their brains active. | Electra-K-Vasileiadou/iStock/Getty Images

“As is the case with people, dopamine production in dogs also falls in old age, leading to a decline in memory and motivational drive,” said Lisa Wallis, an author of the study. “But this natural mental deterioration can be countered with the specific training of cognitive skills.” So pet owners might even want to get games to improve their own cognitive function, as well as their dogs’ brains.

Hint: Dogs love video games as much as humans.

Dogs like touchscreens, but training takes time

Girl with her dog on the bed with tablet.

Dogs like touchscreens but need training. | Rasulovs/iStock/Getty Images

It does take some time to teach a dog how to use a touchscreen, according to the study. And usually, scientists only observe young dogs using touchscreens. “Touchscreen interaction is usually analyzed in young dogs. But we could show that old dogs also respond positively to this cognitive training method,” Huber said.

Hint: Expect in-home games for your dog.

Screen time for dogs

Dog playing game on touch screen

They’re working on building an in-home version. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

With the study complete, the next step is to make the video games available for in-home use. Dogs will use a touchpad to complete tasks and earn a reward. The process will be exactly like a dog performing a trick, such as barking on command, except with a touchscreen.

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Read more: These Are the Dog Breeds That Are Notoriously Difficult to Train