It’s Spring and your dog is excited to be outdoors again. Make the most of your outdoor time with these games that help keep your dog mentally and physically fit and have fun at the same time.
Each dog will have games that they like more than others. Some dogs love fetch and chase games – some find it foolish to return what you obviously don’t want and have thrown away. Some dogs love water and others avoid it. Your dog’s overall health plays a role in how much their games should demand exercise. Their drive may exceed their physical condition, so be careful and build up slowly. Older dogs may be limited to less strenuous activities. No matter what games you choose, your dog will value the bonding time they create with their favorite human.
1. The Walk Game – Dogs crave new experiences. Change your walk entirely. Walk at a different time of the day and be sure to do everything possible to make it different. If you normally walk on the street, find a park. If you walk in the woods, find a dog park. Make each walk as completely different as possible. Your dog will love the new experiences and a sense of adventure. It also provides great mental stimulation. This works especially well for pets in pet stroller as their sensory alerts will be challenged and intrigued by the new experience.
Hide and Seek – This game has the ultimate prize for your dog – you! Have your dog stay (or have a friend hold them). Find a hiding spot and whistle. They will have a wonderful time tracking you down. Gradually make the hiding places more and more difficult. It’s good mental exercise and meets your dog’s tracking instincts as well.
Frisbee – This is a more challenging game of fetch. The longer distance they travel allows your dog to track it in the air and adds to the exercise. This game will tax even the most energetic of dogs and should be followed by less demanding games. You might want to wear an old glove to deal with the doggie slobber for this one.
Hose – As the weather warms, the game of hose provides cooling, fluid intake, and exercise. Have your dog fetch through a sprinkler, chase you as you run through the water. Play fetch at the beach and have your dog retrieve from the water (observe carefully and keep the item close to shore).
Toy Hunt – Most dogs love to hunt making this game a favorite. Take one of your dog’s favorite toys. Place it out of reach but where he can see it. Let him retrieve it. Repeat, moving the toy further and further away and to less obvious places. Then hide it and the hunt is on. This meets hunting instincts and offers physical exercise at the same time.
The Shell Game – What cup is the treat under? Let your dog see you put a treat under one of three cups. Move the cups around. Praise him when he gets the right cup. This is a good game for rainy, indoor days, and provide a way for you and your dog to bond.
The Muffin Game – Take an old muffin tin and place treats in the bottom of several cups. Cover all the holes with balls or toys and let your dog experiment in how to remove the toys to get the treats.
Flirt Pole – This is a good game for older or disabled dogs. Tie a toy to the end of a string on the end of a long pole. Use the pole to keep the toy just beyond reach, allowing your dog to “win” sometimes.
Tug of War – Choose a sturdy rope with knots, or a large toy – Give it to your dog and then grab and pull on the other end. Most dogs love this contest of ownership.
Temptation Time – Place a line of treats over about 10 feet. Have a friend hold your dog at one end while you stand at the other. Call them to you and praise them every time they make it to you without stopping for a treat. Wonderful obedience training and fun bonding time (and yummy treats)
Bubbles – There is something magic is the giant soap bubbles that enchant most dogs. Purchase a bottle of children’s bubbles and let your dog chase them. Its novelty will entertain both you and your dog.
Hunt – Place treats around your house or yard and say “hunt.” Your dog will catch on quickly and enjoy both the hunt and the reward.
Sandbox – Many breeds of dogs love to dig and a game of sandbox may prevent your yard looking like gopher heaven. Fill a child’s wading pool with dirt and bury a treat in it. Your dirt-digging dog will love the freedom to dig away and the reward of the treat.
Leave It – This is a training game that will make for more enjoyable walks for both you and your dog. Place some treats along the route you will walk with your dog. Walk them near it, and when they strain to get it say, “Wait” and hold them until they stop pulling. Then say “ok” and let them get the treat. After a while they will understand to wait on command and not leap at temptations.
Agility Course – Test your creativity in making an agility course – chairs, looped belt, kids play tunnel, blankets and many other “around the house” items. Walk your dog through each step of the course and reward them for each successful part, and then add additional parts.