In between all the walks, sleeping and feeding times, there’s one extra activity that makes dog ownership oh so rewarding… playtime! Not only is playing games together great fun, they are also excellent ways to help strengthen the bond between you and your dog, encourage communication, as well as keeping your dog entertained and sufficiently ‘tired out’ when it comes to bedtime.
Here are some great games to play with your four-legged friend that are guaranteed to get their tails wagging.
Generally the most well-known game. Throwing a ball or toy, gives your dog a great, swift workout. A perfect game to incorporate into your walks, especially when you’re out and about in bigger spaces. You can also benefit knowing that this game will burn up a lot of energy from you dog, but requires a minimum amount of effort on your part.
Not all dogs have an interest in playing fetch. Breeds such as Retrievers have a natural instinct to chase an object and bring it back to you. The clue is in the name. Others dogs simply have no interest in this game. If your dog tends to simply stare at you when you throw them a toy, then you may have to accept that fetch isn’t going to be a game you play together.
If your dog enjoys fetch, then you could try upping your game to include a Frisbee. If this is a new game for your dog, the likelihood is that they won’t know how to catch a Frisbee, so start out by using a soft disk. Generally, regular, plastic Frisbees are pretty solid and if they hit your dog in the face/teeth etc, the game might not seem so appealing to them.
Not always everyone’s first choice. A lot of people believe that this game encourages aggressive behaviour and the feeling of dominance from your dog if they win. This game however, is a perfect distraction tool and a great way for them to let off steam. If your dog starts to misbehave, for example, jumping up or grabbing the toy from your hand, you can simply stop the game, or set out the following ground rules:
• Keep the tug toy set aside and allow only you to initiate the game. This makes the game a treat for your dog.
• Stop and start the game regularly to maintain your leading position.
• If your dog jumps up, place the toy behind your back and use a firm phrase to signal that they have gone too far.
• When resuming play, offer the toy and use a phrase such as “Take it” or “Tug.”
• Have plenty of treats in your pocket to reward your dog for their good behaviour throughout play.
The Cup Game
Based on the old gambling game, played with three shells and a pea. This game results in a tasty treat for your dog. Begin the game with a single cup and place the treat underneath it (rim side down). When your dog nudges the cup, lift it to reveal the treat. Once they have nailed this, start to add more cups and shuffle them around to make the game more challenging.
Not only do children love bubbles, but so do dogs! Dogs love to observe new objects and their surroundings and will thoroughly enjoy chasing bubbles and seeing them as ‘prey.’ Be sure to purchase pet-friendly bubbles that are nontoxic, in case your dog decides to eat them.
Hide and Seek
For this game to work most effectively, you’ll ideally you need two human players in addition to your dog. One to hide and another to keep your dog still.
Before you hide, make a big fuss of your dog. Then make your way to your hiding place. Start easy, pick somewhere your dog can see you going, e.g. the next room. Player two can now release your dog, being sure to give them an encouraging name cue, e.g: “Alice! Go find Alice!” If they need a little more reassurance, get the person hiding to call out the dog’s name.
When he/she finds you, give them lots of praise and tell them how clever they are.
The Name Game
Place two of your dog’s toys in front of him/her in a room with enough space to retrieve. Ensure that any other toys are put away to give you your dog’s full attention. Now give each toy a name, something short and easily recognised, e.g. ‘Tom’ or ‘Ed’. Choose a toy, say its name out loud and throw it across the room. Once your dog has retrieved the toy, do this a few more times, then repeat with the 2nd toy.
When you feel confident that your dog knows the difference between the two toys, place them on the other side of the room and call out the name of one of the toys for them to fetch. If they get it right, reward him/her with lots of praise and treats. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t get it right away, the key to name recognition is lots of practice.
Not all dogs like water, so this game might not be for everyone. Turn on your hose with a low force and stand a reasonable distance away from your dog. Once you have his/her attention, start to jerk the hose around for your dog to chase, being sure not to spray them in the face.
Stop and start the water flow to ensure you remain in charge of the game. If your dog reacts negatively, or tries to attack the hose, consider enforcing strict play rules, or stopping the game all together.
About Jodie: Jodie starting working for Orvis UK in August 2016. As Digital Marketing Executive, she has the opportunity to be involved with a wide range of opportunities in the business. Her main responsibilities include managing the Orvis UK social media channels and blog, as well as providing support to the wider Marketing team. She has previously worked in a number of creative roles and has enjoyed writing from a young age, so is a regular contributor to the Orvis UK blog.