Mental Activities for Dogs


New Member
I just got back from the annual International Dog Symposium here in Germany which took place all last weekend. Had the extreme pleasure of being able to sit at the same table as Anders Hallgren for dinner Saturday night. Anders is pretty much accepted as the father of modern positive based non-coercive dog training methods. Some even go so far as to call him the first dog psychologist in the world.

Not all of his books have been translated into English, but there are two that I think belong in every dog owner's library.

The ABC's of Dog Language clearly explains in simple language how to better understand your dog's body language, facial expressions, verbal sounds, movements and everything else a dog does to try to communicate. Based on the work of Turid Rugaas, he applies her work to more every day events commonly experienced by most dog owners. If you have ever found yourself wondering just what the heck your dog was trying to tell you, this is the book to help you understand.

Mental Activation: Ways to Stimulate Your Dog's Brain and Avoid Boredom
Many dog owners get so focused on physical training that they forget about mental training. Dogs can think and also love to solve puzzles and logic problems. This book will help you stimulate your dog's thinking ability and also help on those nasty winter days coming up when spending lots of time outside might not be easily done.

Cheers and have fun!


Experienced Member
I'll certainly be looking for the second book. I have a huge library of dog-related books, and am always looking out for new ones. That one sounds like a great addition and unlike any other that I already have. Thanks.


New Member
Thank you Bipa for those links. I too am especially interested in the second book as I've not seen or heard of it yet, and it looks like it is pretty new (published this year).

I think the topic of Mental stimulation is so important that it is about time that someone wrote an entire book on it! Most manuals for pet owners don't spend nearly enough time on this topic, IMO.

the International Dog Symposium sounds so intriguing! Could you bring your dogs there too, or was it strictly for humans only? :) And the fact that you got to talk to the author of this book in person is so cool!!


New Member
The book was originally published in 2003 in German with the title "Mentales Training für Hunde". The English translation has just come out.

The International Dog Symposium took place in Aschau im Chiemgau, Bavaria, Germany. It is always the third weekend of November. About half the presentations were done in English with the rest in German. Simultaneous translation was provided via headphones. Speakers included Patricia McConnell, Vera Neun, Anders Hallgren, Adam Miklosi, and Turid Rugaas herself! (plus a few others) It was great to finally be able to meet all these people and speak with them one-on-one.

What struck me was how all the various studies, and research that was being presented seemed to back each other up. We had diverse presenters from USA, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Hungary and Austria yet in essence they seemed to be getting similar results and giving the same overall message. Positive reward based training works best.

<deleted a whole bunch of detail here that would bore most folks silly or even start an argument. Might be a future separate thread if I have time to organize my notes more coherently>

A limited number of dogs were allowed to be brought along. There were just too many attendees to allow everyone to bring their dogs, so dog spots had to be reserved ahead of time. We left our two teenage rebels with my in-laws. I can just imagine Turid Rugaas trying to demonstrate various barks, and then my two terriors joining in. :dogrolleyes:

P.S. For those of you really desperate to find something new to train your dog, there's another book by Anders Hallgren that you might find interesting:

Smoke Alarm Training for Your Dog

Swedish animal behaviorist and psychologist Anders Hallgren teaches how to train your dog to have a nose for smoke and fire. This is the first book of its kind in the world. With simple step-by-step training sessions and illustrative photos, you can teach your dog to warn you and your family before the smoke alarm goes off and the fire starts.

luna may

New Member
The second book sounds really great! I hope they have it here...
Could you give us an example out of it??? :doglaugh:

missouri gal

New Member

Sounds like you had a terrific time and came home with lots of info!!!!!
I, like most everyone else will be looking for the book "Mental Activation..."!
I also saw the fire/smoke alarm book before and was even thinking about purchasing it--just haven't done so yet--esp am eager to learn how to train to do it since my sweetheart is on our local Fire Dept!!! Not only that, but it will really push home how terribly important it is to our children if they see Rocky and I training for this!!
Thanks so much for a bit of a push to get this!!!