Brain Training For Dogs: Items

Welcome to the Brain Training For Dogs items page. Almost all of my brilliant games can be set up with just common household items, but you may choose to use the following…

General Items

Whether you’re training your dog to play the piano, or just teaching him basic obedience skills, these items can prove useful. Don’t worry, I’ve suggested common household alternatives for each item!

  • Clicker:

    StarMark clicker

    A clicker is an important device which tells our dog that he has done something right and a treat is on the way!

    Alternatives: If you don’t want to use a clicker you can use a verbal marker instead (a sound you make with your mouth). Information on what a verbal marker is and how to use it can be found here.

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  • Treats:

    Tricky Trainers (Crunchy)

    Since Zuke’s was purchased by Purina, Cloud Star’s Tricky Trainers are a great choice for treats or lures. Because we will be rewarding successive behaviors in most cases, I recommend the “crunchy” variety.

    Alternatives: Food rewards are pretty much a necessity when it comes to training dogs, but in some cases you may be able to use life rewards instead. To learn about life rewards see this page.

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  • Cookies:

    Blue Dog Bakery cookies

    Cookies are slightly larger doggy treats which tend to be seen as higher value. Larger treats will be necessary for certain training exercises.

    Alternatives: Plain cooked chicken pieces also work well as a higher-value reward.

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  • Leash:

    Soft Touch Collars leather leash

    Investing in a good quality leather leash is a wise choice for any dog owner. Fixed leashes are often a better choice because retractable leashes can promote pulling.

    Alternatives: A leash is needed when training your dog in any unenclosed area, we don’t want him bolting off and getting lost! However, if you are in a securely fenced area (such as the yard) you can let him roam leash-free.

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  • Front-Attachment Harness:

    Freedom front-attachment harness

    There are several brands producing quality front-attachment harnesses, but the Freedom No-Pull Harness stands out as one of the best. Harnesses like this help to reduce pulling on walks.

    Alternatives: You can use a standard collar and leash combination, but front-attachment harnesses are a better choice for walks.

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  • Treat Bag:

    SnakPak Pro treat bag

    A treat bag is a convenient place to store doggy treats during training. I have linked to the SnakPak Pro treat bag, but there are plenty of cheaper treat bags on Amazon if price is an issue, just read the reviews because some of them fall apart quickly.

    Alternatives: You can keep treats in your pocket instead, but be warned, things can get messy in there!

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  • Stopwatch:


    You will need a timer to time how long your dog takes to complete each graded challenge. A simple, cheap stopwatch like this is all you need.

    Alternatives: Most smartphones have a timer feature built into them and this can work well. If you don’t mind inaccuracy, a standard analog clock is another possible substitute.

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Items For Games & Exercises

Most games only require common household items and treats. Here are some of the less common items found in the book and some suggested alternatives.

  • Target Stick:

    Target stick

    Used For: Targeting.

    Alternatives: Post-it notes can be used instead of a target stick when teaching dogs to target objects.

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  • Non-Toxic Plastic Balls:

    Ball pit balls

    Used For: The Ball Pit Game.

    Alternatives: Tennis balls, toys or plastic/paper cups can be used to fill a ball pit. But let’s be honest, everyone loves the plastic balls! They’re also easy to shift around which helps when playing The Ball Pit Game.

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  • Dog Pool:

    Pettom dog pool

    Used For: Bobbing For Treats, The Ball Pit Game.

    Alternatives: For The Ball Pit Game, a large cardboard box is a good substitute. For Bobbing For Treats, A large basin or clean litter tray can be used instead (if your dog is small enough). A sturdy children’s paddling pool may work as a substitute in both games.

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  • Training Cones:

    Orange training cones

    Used For: Hot And Cold, Serpentines And Spirals.

    Alternatives: For Hot And Cold, you could replace the cones with empty boxes, lids, buckets or toys. For Serpentines And Spirals, large pots are a good substitute.

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  • Plastic Rings:

    Plastic toss rings

    Used For: Ring Stackers.

    Alternatives: We will need ring shaped objects for our dog to stack. Ring-shaped frisbees could work well as an alternative.

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  • Battery-Powered Keyboard:

    Battery-powered keyboard

    Used For: Play The Piano.

    Alternatives: You can have your dog play an acoustic piano, but I highly recommend against this because the keys can get scratched!

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  • Other

    Here are a few other items you might like.

    • Nosework Kit:

      Leerburg nosework kit

      Have you been enjoying the nosework exercise from The Shell Game? Try this kit and take your dog’s nosework training to the next level!

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    • Mini Basketball Hoop:

      Basketball hoop

      Has your dog mastered The Tidy Up Game? Why not put a fun little twist on it by substituting the toys and container for a basketball and hoop?

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    • Bake-A-Bone Treat Maker:


      Bringing the joys of home cooking to the canine world – Bake-A-Bone allows you to quickly and easily make your very own doggy treats! Why not use these as extra special food rewards while playing brain games with your dog?

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