Games are a great way to provide mental and physical stimulation for dogs. All dogs can play games, but some dogs will show more interest than others. Games are a key part of a puppy’s development and can help them learn various useful skills. Start playing games with your dog from a young age if possible.
Many owners make the mistake of thinking walking their dog every day provides them with everything they need. Games and play activities can be another great activity to do with your dog, you don’t need to rely on the same old dog walks day after day. Games can also help to strengthen the bond between you and your dog and improve your relationship.
No matter what dog you have there will be some suitable games for them to play. There are so many different games to try. We have included a few examples and a wide range of games you can play. There are lots of books that have plenty of games for you to try. For example, ‘Brain Games For Dogs’ by Claire Arrowsmith or ‘Games To Play With Your Dog’ by David Sands in association with the DogsTrust.
Here is our complete guide to playing games with your dog.
Search and retrieve games
You can play search and retrieve games at home or out and about. Teach your dog to find a particular item and bring it to you, such as your car keys or a toy. One of the easiest games to play is hiding treats around your home and getting your dog to find them. Other ideas include hiding toys or treats under pots and getting your dog to figure out which ones they are hidden under.
Games to play in your garden
Your garden is another fantastic place to play games with your dog. Some games you can play include making obstacle courses, getting your dog to jump through hoops and playing in a paddling pool during the summer. You could set up an agility course in your own garden with jumps and tunnels. More complex games include football where you teach your dog to push around the ball with their paw and nose. You can even teach them to score goals! Other games that require equipment include swing ball where a ball is attached to string or rope and even skipping.
Games to play in your house
The list of games you can play with your dog inside your home is endless. Even if you don’t have much space you can get creative. Put together a basic indoor obstacle course or play hide and seek around your home. Another fun game is where you teach your dog to sit on a box, this can easily be done inside. Puzzles and interactive games are ideal for indoor play as they don’t take up too much room and focus on mental stimulation rather than physical exercise.
Games to play in the park
If your garden isn’t big enough for games then you can always go down to your local park. Fetch and frisbee are popular games to play in the park. When you are in the park or out in the countryside you can use nature to create an obstacle course. They can jump over logs, walk along the top of trees and leap over streams as long as it’s safe to do so.
Games for less active dogs
Does your dog like to snooze a lot and doesn’t show much interest in active games? Some dog breeds and older dogs will struggle with the more complex and physically demanding games. That’s OK, there are plenty of alternatives they can play. They can play simple games such as balancing a treat on their paw and searching for toys.
General tips and advice for playing games
- Don’t play games too soon after feeding your dog. Leave at least an hour.
- Don’t force your dog to play games for too long. If your dog loses interest or appears to be tired give them a rest and play again later. Dogs can only concentrate for a limited amount of time before they switch off. The last thing you want to do is force your dog to play games and make them completely exhausted.
- How long your dog likes to play games for will depend on their age, breed and personality. Dog breeds that have more endurance when it comes to playing games include Border Collies, Labradors and Golden Retrievers, although it still depends on the individual dog.
- Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean water while playing games.
- Try not to have too many distractions such as other people or dogs if you want your dog to stay focused.
- Don’t expect them to do too much too soon. If they haven’t played games before start off with very simple games and you will slowly progress.
- Have treats and toys ready to give your dog as a reward or use a clicker if you prefer. Use whatever your dog values the highest. Some dogs want nothing more than to get their tennis ball as a reward whereas others are purely motivated by food.
- Take care if your dog has any injuries. Speak to your vet about what physical activities they are allowed to do and don’t play any games if it will make their injury worse. There are some games you can play that are more mental than physical.
- Don’t play overly energetic games in very hot weather as your dog could get heat stroke.
- If you are playing games outside on a particularly cold day, make sure your dog is warmed up properly first to prevent them from pulling any muscles.
- If your dog doesn’t do very well at a game never punish them, always use positive reinforcement. Shouting at your dog and punishing them can lead to fearful aggression and nervousness.
Click here to view our range of toys for dogs that you can use for playing games.