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 Games to Play with Your Dog

People who regularly play with their dog develop understanding, respect and communication with their dog. Games are activities you do with your dog that require the two of you to communicate and work together in some way. While some would argue with me I also distinguish games from sports. Games may have a goal but they have no titles, no placements, no ribbons. Games might even involve competition - but it is competition of the moment.

Playing games with your dog is really good for your relationship. Remember that while dogs are not humans in fur suits they are social creatures and playing is an important element in developing social relationships. Playing games is a fundamental way of "modeling" real life. You can teach a dog to obey by playing games that make following your instructions fun. Don't believe me? Think about kids and how much they enjoy "Follow the leader" and "Simon Says" Think about all the games kids play that involve following (or failing to follow) directions. Kids learn from this and so do dogs. And handled properly the learning is a very positive experience.

These are games and ideas submitted from a variety of sources. For the most part I've posted them without editing.

  1. Follow the Leader
  2. Find the Treat
  3. Go Find
  4. Hide and Seek
  5. Fun with Toys

K9 Nosework - What could be more natural fun for a dog than using that fabulous nose. Explore the fun of playing scent games with your dog.

Books and Videos

Toys for Bored Dogs

Sports and Activities that are fun for both of you

Mind Games for Dogs.



Follow the Leader

A really fun game I play with my dogs and my puppy classes is follow the leader.

I set up lots of puppy obstacles and traffic cones in no particular order and give each handler the opportunity the chance to be leader. All you need are three dogs and handlers. In the summer (actually most of the year here in Florida) I include a shallow wading pool, also some piles of balls or Frisbees. Well, you get the idea.

Find the Treat

I put my dogs on a "down" stay then I put treats in a variety of hiding places. They have to wait until I'm all done hiding them. When I say "GO!" the dog run around trying to each get the most treats. Carol

Go Find

"Go Find" is a more advanced version of the "Find the Treat" game. My very active dog Turbo needed to learn some self control and focus. This game helped him in a fun way. I started with an ordinary game of fetch . As a separate exercise I introduced "stay". Then I put them together. Instead of throwing the ball I would tell him "stay" and I'd drop the ball. If he stayed I told him "Yes" (my " clicker word") and tossed or kicked the ball to make it move and let him get the ball. If he grabbed the ball without permission I would just turn my back for a few seconds and ignore him. Soon he was waiting for the "yes" then diving for the ball. I started tossing the ball a little bit further each time. The toss was gentle and intended to be not exciting ... at least at first.

Over a period of weeks I gradually increased the distance until he was able to wait while I threw the ball as far as I could. Next I would tell him "stay" and instead of throwing the ball I would walk ten or fifteen feet, then drop the ball, and then "yes" release him to get it. Working this to a long distance didn't take long.

Next I dropped the ball behind a log, when he waited for the release "yes" I added the cue "Go Find". Soon I was walking 50 feet or so before dropping the ball behind a log and releasing him and saying "Go Find".

Next I played a trick on him. I only pretended to drop the ball. Instead I walked another ten feet and let the ball drop behind the log when he couldn't see the ball leave my hand. He got to the place he thought I dropped it, didn't find it, but only had to search a little to find it. Sometimes I would actually drop the ball, sometimes I would walk a bit before dropping the ball. Soon he got the idea that he had to actually look for the ball. I walked three, four or five different places either pretending to drop the ball or actually dropping the ball. Since he knew some were a trick he learned to check all the places.

The next stage involved leaving him confined out of sight while I put the balls behind the logs. Then I started putting the balls in a variety of places, not just behind the logs but in the fence next to the log, in a bush, or under a cone. This game has developed much more than these quick instructions.

Hide and Seek

I play hide and seek with my dog. I put him on a sit or down wait. Then I hide. When I am ready I call him. Watch out they sometimes peek. This is good for teaching the dog to wait until called as well as fun for you and your dog. Judy

Fun with Toys

Toys can be used to reduce boredom, exercise the dog, control behavior, and enhance your relationship with your dog. The article " Toys for Bored Dogs" takes a closer look at all of these benefits. It reviews treat dispensing toys, active toys, and traditional interactive games using a toy such as Tug and Fetch.

Do As I Do: Using Social Learning To Train Dogs Book A fascinating way to teach your dog using the natural inclination of a dog to mimic behavior. It is just fun!

Tricks (Performance Art) - most dogs think that doing tricks is a kind of game. And if you use clicker training often the dog thinks he's training you. "Let's see ..... if I do this .... I can make her give me a treat!"

Clicker Training

Clicker training is great for teaching tricks as well as agility, obedience and much more

More Resources on Games to enjoy with your dog

Games Dogs Love

An explanation of the bonding good games encourage plus some fun but simple games for you and your dog.


Toys, Games, Books and Video


Games, Books and Videos from
Dog Training In 10 Minutes A Day: 10-Minute Games To Teach Your Dog The Canine Kingdom Of Scent - Fun Activities Using Your Dog's Natural Instincts Super Sniffer Scent Games: A Guide to Having Fun With Your Dog   Time to Play
Dog Training In 10 Minutes A Day: 10-Minute Games To Teach Your Dog The Canine Kingdom Of Scent - Fun Activities Using Your Dog's Natural Instincts Super Sniffer Scent Games: A Guide to Having Fun With Your Dog   Time to Play Clock
Play With Your Dog Play Together, Stay Together - Happy And Healthy Play Between People And Dogs Mind Games for Dogs    
Play With Your Dog Play Together, Stay Together Happy and Healthy Play Between People and Dogs Mind Games for Dogs  




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