Playing games with your dog has several benefits, including keeping his or her mind sharp, giving them some physical exercise and strengthening the bond between you. While there are some standard games like Fetch that just about everyone does with their dogs, it’s important to mix it up sometimes to prevent boredom. We’ve put together a list of games you can play indoors or out with your pet to keep things interesting.
Hide and Go Seek
This is the classic kid’s game modified for you and your pet. Obviously, he may not know he’s supposed to look for you if you just hide and wait for him. Instead, choose a good hiding place, then call your dog. He’ll either run around like crazy looking for you in random places or he’ll follow his nose right to you. Either way, he’ll enjoy the hunt.
After you’ve taught your dog to sit, the next step is asking her to stay. After she is sitting properly, back slowly away while telling her to “Stay.” At first, she may only stay put for a second or two, but over time you can teach her to stay for longer periods of time. Eventually you should be able to leave the room while your dog stays until you release her with a word and a command to “Come.” Reward her each time she is able to stay for a longer period of time. While this can be an enjoyable game for your pet, it is also a great training tool so that you will be able to control your pet in unexpected situations where they need to stay put for safety reasons.
This is another game that is actually a training tool in disguise. Running around your house, calling your dog to chase you, encourages your dog to follow you when called. It’s better for them to chase you than for you to chase them. If you chase them all the time, you may discover yourself chasing them while they run away if they ever get loose. On the other hand, if they instinctively respond to you running away from them by following you, it will be much easier to get them to where you want them to go. Chase is also a good cardio workout for your dog and can help prevent weight gain.
This is a great way to encourage your dog’s critical thinking skills as well as his sense of smell. Place a treat on the floor where your dog can see it, then place a cup over it and place two more cups down on either side. Now slide the three cups around, shuffling and reshuffling them while your dog watches. When you’re sure he can no longer tell which one hides the treat, let him try to figure out which one has the treat. If he’s right, he gets a tasty reward. If he is wrong, you can start again.
Hide the Treat
This can be a great indoor game on those cold or rainy days when you can’t get outside. Put your pooch in one room, then go around the house hiding treats in various locations. When you let your dog loose, encourage him to find the hidden treats. This will not only give her some exercise; it will help her hone her scent and tracking skills.
If your dog is like a lot of dogs, he loves dragging all of his toys out of his toy box or basket and dragging them around the house. Rather than doing the pick up and storage every night for your dog, teach him to retrieve his toys and drop them in their storage box or basket. Give him a small training treat every time he brings back a toy and puts it away and you’ll soon have a dog who actually looks forward to putting away his toys (unlike a lot of toddlers!).
A flirt pole or flirt stick is a long pole with a rope at the end that holds a lure of some type, such as a ball or a small, stuffed animal. These are great for exercising your dog and giving them some mental stimulation by appealing to their prey drive. It can also train your dog to curb his prey drive when commanded to do so. Wave the lure in their direction and let them try to catch it. Don’t let them catch it every time, but enough times to keep them engaged. Make sure you teach them to “leave it,” “release,” or whatever command you want to use.
When playing any games with your dog, start slowly and let them get the hang of it, rewarding them periodically to keep them excited about the game. If your pet is sedentary, only play for a few minutes at a time until he or she is in good shape and able to play for longer stretches without risk of injury or overdoing it. You’ll soon be playing together regularly, enjoying the games and your strengthening bond.