Did you know dogs get bored too? It’s true! I play dog games with Miss Millie nearly every day to help curb her energy and keep her entertained.
Now, if you have a dog like Miss Millie playing fetch over and over isn’t going to cut it. She will fetch three times and then wants to do something different. Everything with her is in repetitions of three but when we are training we practice three times and then switch to something else. She now expects everything to be done after three times.
That said, I had to come up with things to challenge her because exercise isn’t always enough. These are some of our favorite dog games.
Hide & Seek
This is the same game kids play with a doggie twist. Put your dog in a stay (or wait) and then you hide. When you are hidden you call your dog to come.
You can also mix this game up by hiding a toy and having them find that toy. If you try this you will want to start with a heavily scented toy, I’ve used a rubber toy soaked in beef broth overnight. I use the command “Find It” so it is also an alternative to the next game.
If your dog is food driven this will become their favorite game! Miss Millie is always ready to play this one and in fact we play this every time I leave the house.
Start off with your dog in a stay and begin with putting treats or kibble in their sight line and then release them to “Find It”. Next time make it a bit more difficult by hiding the reward behind objects. As you progress you can start hiding them in other rooms and making it harder and harder.
You think you don’t want your dog to play this game because you want them to give you the toy every time. You can teach your dog to “Pull” and then “Drop.” Allowing you to control the game. This is a great game to play if you want to watch a little TV or are feeling a bit lazy……but that may just be me!
This is a fun game to begin to teach scenting. Take 3 cups and put a smelly treat under one cup. Move them around and have your dog “Touch” the cup with the treat.
The “Touch” command is a great to teach because you can direct any behavior you want. When you ask a dog to “Leave It” then they can “Touch” your hand so they are redirecting. If you haven’t taught “Touch” it is an easy one to teach, check out how I taught it in this post.
You can pick these up on Amazon or you may find them at your local pet store. Miss Millie ate all her meals out of them as a puppy to help her work her brain. We still play with them when she needs a little extra activity.
Here are some of our favorites:
Red Light, Green Light
Do you remember playing this game? As a refresher, one person would say Green Light and everyone would move as fast as they could to the finish line before they heard Red Light. The doggie version is pretty much the same but uses the commands “Come” and “Freeze.” I use “Freeze” with this game because I don’t want the dog to do anything but halt their forward motion. You can learn to teach Freeze in my post “10 Commands Every Dog Should Know.”
To play this game put your dog in a “Sit” to start. Then give the command “Come,” as they get close give the command “Freeze.” Repeat this until they reach you.
Instead of “Freeze” you can also use “Halt,” “Wait,” or “Stay” if you feel more comfortable with those commands.
The best part is that everyone can play this game, not just the dog!
Help Around the House
I don’t know about you but having a helper around the house is so needed. You can teach your dog to do chores and for them it is a fun game. One of Miss Millie’s jobs is to open and close doors in the house, this is particularly useful when I have my hands full. I use the commands “Pull Door” and “Touch Door” because not all doors open and close the same way. Once you teach “Pull” with Tug-O-War and “Touch” with the Cup Game this is a natural progression.
You can have your dog get the newspaper or carry the mail or messages between people in the house. Using commands such as “Get/Fetch,” “Take,” and “Give” you can have your dog do any of these.
Molson and I played this game a LOT, Miss Millie isn’t sure what to make of it. Start with a ball that is smaller and softer than a typical soccer ball, not too small or soft because you don’t want them picking it up.
Begin by kicking the ball toward your dog and tell them to “Touch.” Once they get that they are supposed to interact with the ball they will push the ball with their nose or paws. As they get better you can switch to a soccer ball. You can pass the dog the ball and they will send it back to you. If you have multiple people or a backboard/wall you can play “keep away” and your dog becomes the defender.
Molson loved to play this game and she was a wicked defender. She’d jump up and bat the ball away with her head. You can teach them to do this by tossing a large soft ball at their nose and tell them to touch. This is the ball that I use to teach this:
Once they get this game they will be more adventurous in trying to get the ball and playing with you.
Where’s Your [XXXX]
This game builds on the Hide & Seek and Find It game. You ask your dog to select an object out of many objects. If you have taught your dog the names of toys this game becomes super easy. Miss Millie loves this game and we do it on land and in the water.
Start with two toys and ask them to “Get” one of the two. Mix it up and have them select the other toy, change the order, etc. Once they have mastered that you can add more objects.
For the Portuguese Water Dog Water Trials, they must perform article discrimination in the water with three objects: a bumper/dummy, a 10 ft float line, and a hard ball with a sinking rope. Miss Millie loves practicing games like this and I love it because it wears her out!
And the most important game of them all “Clean Up!” Teaching your dog to “Clean Up” their toys is a bit challenging, but it is so much fun. It helps if they know the objects names because you can tell them to “Get XXXX,” so teaching the game above really helps build into this. Once they have the object in their mouth, you give the “Bring It” command and when they get to you give the “Drop” command. “Drop” is different from “Give,” with “Drop” you want the dog to release it exactly where they are but not to your hand.
After you get through the commands with one object you start over again. Eventually your dog will associate “Clean Up” with this set of commands and will do it happily for a treat!
Don’t forget to reward your dog. When you first start you will want to use higher value treats, like string cheese, hot dogs, or something similar. As your dog gets more comfortable with the dog games you can lower the value of treats, these are treats that Miss Millie loves!
For some of these dog games once they have mastered the task, the reward is the game itself! Hopefully these dog games help eliminate some boredom with your dog. What dog games do you like to play?
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