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Games will never not be fun for dogs, especially if done appropriately and with delightful treats! Whether you are both staying at home, or going outside for a breath of fresh air, there are lots of games that can make your bonding time fun and exciting!
Most dogs are born knowing how to fetch. Toss your dog's favourite toy in an open, safe area and they’ll run after it and hopefully bring it back to you. This easy-to-learn game gives your dog plenty of exercise and taps into their natural instincts to chase and catch prey.
Aside from training, playing games gives your pooch the physical and mental stimulation they need, which contributes to their overall well-being. Try these games and discover their favourite!
Tug of war
This is a game that never gets old! Use a soft tug toy or a rope toy to enjoy a gentle game of tug, but set some ground rules and teach your dog to release the toy when you say. It’s important to establish clear boundaries to make the game enjoyable for both you and your dog.
Start by introducing the tug toy and encouraging them to engage. When ready, command a release like "drop it" or "let go" and reward compliance. Consistency in enforcing these rules ensures a safe and enjoyable playtime. You’ll find puppies don’t need any nudging to play this game! They’ll love it!
All you need is a towel and some little treats to make a treat burrito! Spread the towel and scatter the treats evenly all over its surface. Serve your dog the burrito after carefully rolling up the cloth to ensure that every treat is kept in place. They'll love pulling the towel apart to find each treat!
Hide and seek
A game that both humans and dogs love! For this game to work, your dog needs to be able to understand basic commands like come, sit, and stay. Put them in a room, make sure they stay there, then make your escape and find a hiding place. Once you've found the perfect hiding place, call their name to lure them to you. Once they've located you, praise and celebrate their significant accomplishment.
Dogs have an excellent sense of smell, and what's a better way to practise that than with a game? Treasure Hunt or Hidden Treasure is somehow similar to hide-and-seek, but instead of hiding yourself, you'll hide a stinky treat (or toy)! After telling them to 'Sit' and 'Stay', go hide the reward. Once it's hidden, give them a go signal like "Okay" or other similar commands, and their quest begins!
Congratulate your dog and give them the hidden treasure as a reward when they successfully find it!
The American Psychological Association found out that the average dog can learn 165 words! Your dog may not know that many words yet, and you might want to improve their vocabulary first before doing this game.
You can start with naming their toys. If they have a stuffed duck that they love, you can name that ‘Duckie’ and repeatedly say that name whenever they’re playing with it, and when you’re giving it and taking it away. Then, try the Name Game! Put Duckie alongside other toys, and tell your dog. ‘Get Duckie!’
Stop and Go
Stop and Go is a game that reinforces training. It helps your doggo remember the ‘Come’ and ‘Stay’ commands.
After you've got your dog a little worked up and thrilled, leave some space between the two of you. Ask them to 'Come', but before they reach you, tell them to 'Stay' Then, reward them if they stop in their tracks! Stop and Go teaches your dog self-control and develops their listening abilities.
Wild sits is a fun exercise that also helps your dog practise their sense of calm. Your dog needs to be on leash on this one.
While they’re on leash, rile them up as much as possible–you can jump up and down, run around them while cheering–anything to excite them. Then, when they start to bark and jump or run too, ask them to sit. Depending on how hyperactive your dog is, this may take some effort, but with a few tries, your dog should be able to shift from being excited to calm.
Aside from having fun, your dog can also develop new skills when you introduce them to various games. Choose games to play with your dog that will aid in its skill development. Shell Game help improve their focus and stimulate the mind. You just have to arrange three upside-down cups or containers with treats hidden under one of them. Shuffle the cups or container and when they guess correctly, they’ll get the treat!
Dogs love to chase balls, but some are just better at this sport. If your dog is one of them, or if you just want to enjoy your favourite sport with your favourite companion, this is the perfect game for the both of you! Set up a miniature soccer pitch and train your dog to use its nose and paws to push a light ball.
Playing flying disc, often known as Frisbee, is a fantastic way to get exercise and is a great substitute for tossing a ball or a stick. Your dog will pick up playing Frisbee quickly if they are already adept at catching objects and returning them to you, making the game even more enjoyable for you both!
A Frisbee and an open space are all you need to get going! Start off with tossing the Frisbee gently, and as your dog gets comfortable catching and returning it, you can start tossing it farther and higher each time.
Agility courses are a fun game right from the preparation! You can choose different materials to make your own mini obstacle course–hula hoops, cones, used tires, tunnels–and set it up in an open area. Train your dog to go over, under, and through the obstacles. Use treats to encourage them to finish the game, or place treats right after each obstacle so they’ll feel riled up to continue!
Swimming is a great way to bond with your dog during summer. If you’re near a beach, or a pet resort, then you’re in the right place! Always try to find a dog-friendly beach with a lifeguard on duty, just in case, so you can ask them about the water's safety and the present conditions. Before you leave, be sure to check the tidal schedules and weather forecast as well.
If your dog is not a natural swimming breed, equip them with a life jacket for their safety. Once you ensure that your dog is safe and follow all the required safety measures, it's time to enjoy your swimming adventure to the fullest!
Stand up paddleboarding
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a great summer hobby that you can enjoy with your dog. It combines surfing and paddling for a full-body activity. You can simply rent a board and try it with your dog, or you can join a group and receive expert instruction.
Remember that patience is key as you and your dog adjust to standing up on the board together, and expect to fall in several times!
Turn on your sprinkler
Sometimes, you don’t need to go far to enjoy playing with your dog outside–your sprinkler is just waiting for you! Simply turn on your sprinkler in the back garden and play!
Some dogs enjoy trying to 'eat' the water, so keep in mind that while this is enjoyable, it can be dangerous if your dog consumes too much water (known as water intoxication). Just in case, double-check that you are not in an area where hose pipes are banned.
This is also a simple game you can do in your yard. Get some bubble blowing toys and a dog-friendly bubble solution. You, your family, and the dog can spend time chasing and blowing bubbles! If you're wondering if the bubble mixture is safe for your dog, you can buy a pet and child-friendly bubble solution.
Lots of dogs enjoy digging. Unfortunately, they do it in restricted locations, such as flower beds. If your dog has a natural tendency for digging, you do not need to fully discourage it. Instead, establish a dog digging area in a corner of the yard using dirt or sand.
You may also use a child's sandbox and add entertaining stuff in it for your dog to dig up. They'll love it!
Playing games with your dog not only makes them happy, but it also deepens your bond. From interactive toys to agility tests, make every moment an opportunity for laughter and shared joy. These activities not only keep your dog physically busy, but also stimulate their mind.
Remember that the most important thing is to safely have fun together and make memorable memories filled with wagging tails and playful barks!