Exciting Games to Play With Your Dog

games to play with your dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Dogs are animals that love to socialize not only with each other, but also with humans. As a result, the best way to build a relationship and understand the needs of your pet is through playing. It is advisable to include a fun session in your daily schedule, as this will be great not only for your well-being, but also for your pet’s happiness. It is a great way to prevent boredom, and to stimulate the natural instincts in a creative way.

There are numerous games to play with your dog, according to age, and preferences. It is up to you to find the ones that your pet loves most.

If it is done right, this interactive activity can bring a series of benefits. You can learn more about the personality of your pet, and this will make the bond between you two even stronger. At the same time, playing can stimulate its mind, and it can also be used for learning new tricks. In order to enjoy all the great benefits, it is important to structure the playing session, by including challenging opportunities and building confidence. You need to understand that it is not sufficient to let your pet run wild, but to introduce it to a well-built and lively daily routine.

Benefits of playing

It is extremely important to understand that the dog needs your attention and love in order to develop beautifully. This is why you need to engage in playing and through it to encourage a mental and physical growth. Furthermore, the breed influences the way the dog reacts, and you need to channel its energy towards a constructive behavior. Here are the major benefits that positive playing brings for your dog:

  • it stimulates its nose;
  • it introduces the dog to the objects in the house;
  • it helps it focus better;
  • it learns the basic commands.

Dogs love to track, and the scent can help them identify a treat easily. In order to stimulate the nose in a fun manner, you can hide treats around the house, and encourage your pet to find them. In order to make things even more challenging, you can build obstacles. Remember that the most delicious treat must be the hardest to find.

Dog toys infographic

You can use containers and boxes so the dog can either push them or jump over them. This is a great way to help the dog build confidence by encourage it to solve an issue by itself. Keep in mind that you need to stay close to your pet and encourage it along the way. Playing with your pet outside, should imply a lot of running. At the same time, you can combine physical exercises with the ones that stimulate the mind.

The best way to do it is to rub a stuffed animal with the dog’s favorite treat and to tie it on a long stick. Show it to your pet and achieve eye contact. Encourage it to get it, but not through running. Start with slow moves, and stop from time to time. In order to be able to do it, you need to be in total control. You can alternate running with walking, for the best results.

Enjoying quality time with the dog means much more than using toys. At the same time, they can turn out to be pretty expensive. You can avoid overspending if you rely on your imagination. If you start using chairs and tables, or even the couch for an agility course, the dog will get accustomed to them, and this will prevent chewing.

Furthermore, you can build toys for your pet quite easy. Instead of purchasing one, try giving it an empty plastic bottle. It is advisable to opt for water bottles, as the ones that contain juice can leave stains on the carpet once the dog manages to puncture it. To make things even more exciting, and to help it focus better in order to solve a problem, you can add some treats inside the bottle.

Puppy palying with a leaf

Discipline is the first thing to teach your dog, and this needs to be done from a young age. Puppies can learn their name by hiding from them and calling them by their name. Other commands that can be learned through playing are stay and come. You need to start with baby steps and stay relatively close to the dog when you teach it.

Once it obeys them, you can increase the distance and go to a different room, or hide behind a tree if you are outside. In order to be effective, it is important to avoid saying the commands more than once. Be patient, and leave your pet figure out the next moves by its own. It will be more and more fun, once it gets accustomed to them.

Getting ready

A successful playing experience requires prior preparation. This means that you need to respond to your dog’s reactions in a productive manner. Here are the basic rules that each pet owner needs to know:

  • make sure that the toys you use for playing can be taken away from your dog easily, in case it does not know yet the leave command;
  • avoid aggressive wrestling, or games that make the dog go out of control, especially if you wish to teach it new tricks;
  • it is better to prevent your dog from jumping, unless the game requires it, thus it is better to keep the treats and toys at waist level;
  • make time for daily play, and have fun even when you take your dog out for a walk;
  • schedule various playing sessions each day;
  • end a playing session when your dog is still active;
  • encourage your dog during each playing session through praise;
  • always start the play when your dog behaves in a proper manner in order to develop a good and obedient behavior;
  • always clean the toys after the playing sessions;
  • avoid pushing your dog to play when it is not in the mood;
  • feel as eager as your pet to have fun.

Playing with the puppy

All puppies love to play, and for them, this is a way to discover the world. It is your duty, as a pet owner, to make the best of this time. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that this is the time when they develop habits, that can turn out to be less or more destructive in the future. This is why you need to teach the puppy what it is allowed to do, and what it is forbidden. If you let it run on its own all the time, it will be harder to discipline it later. Playing can never start too early, either. Here’s a great article on the importance of puppy socialization.

Here are the major rules that you must consider when you play with your puppy.

Distract the puppy if it becomes too aggressive with a toy.Keep playing with the puppy if it becomes aggressive.
Use water, or strong noise (like an alarm) to correct a bad behavior.Respond aggressively to a hostile behavior.
Put pressure on the harness or leash when the puppy does something bad, or does not respond to the commands.Stay on the ground level when playing, as this can make the puppy overreact.
Make fetching games fun, by incorporating treats.Mimic the puppy’s gestures when playing.
Stimulate the mind of the puppy by introducing it to encouraging games, like pursuits.
Mix playing with training.

Games to play inside

Rainy days can be very boring, not only for you, but also for your pet. This is why you need to know that there are several fun games to play with your dog inside. A great way to help it consume its energy is through stairway dash. The rules are very simple, and this exercise is extremely exciting for the pet. Just remember to get started at the bottom, in order to avoid putting too much pressure on the joints. Tell your dog to sit and throw a ball on top of the stairs.

You can increase the enthusiasm by not allowing it to run after it immediately. Tell it to get ready several times, and only after say the go command. While it will run directly to get the toy, do not rush it to come back. Instead, let it descend on its own pace. If it gets too anxious to come down, encourage a slow return. Ten repetitions are more than enough to exhaust your pet.

Tag you’re it is another fun game that can be played in the house. Furthermore, it can be played together with the whole family. You and another person (or persons) playing have to get several treats and to stay in different corners of the room. This is a game that can be played in the whole house, so remember to leave the doors open and adjust the furniture if needed. Call the dog and give it a treat as soon as it reaches you. The next person should do the same thing.

While the dog runs for its treat, you need to go in a different corner and call it again. As the game evolves, move further from the dog and make it find you. In order to make things even more exciting, you can call your dog, and as soon as it spots you to start running. This is a great physical exercise for both of you.

Dog Agility Equipment Construction

Building an obstacle course can be really fun, and it has multiple benefits. It stimulates both the mind and the body. At the same time, it boosts your creativity, and as it implies a bit of preparation, it will occupy most of the rainy day. In order to build it, you can use the items from your house, like chairs, milk crates, boxes, baskets, and anything you can think of that could make things exciting for your pet. Once you are done creating the obstacles, you can encourage the dog to run through each of them.

The rewards should consist of praises and treats. It is important to put emphasis on the fun aspect rather than on the challenging part. It must be only as hard as your dog can handle. You can also use its favorite toys to encourage it to move them from a place to another.

Besides loyal companions, dogs can also be a helpful hand. Clean-up time is a fun game through which you can teach your dog to put its toys in a specific place, preferably a basket. The first thing that you need to do is to introduce it to the command put it away. This means that you must encourage it to pick the toy up and carry it to the basket.

Brain games for dogs

Though it may sound hopeless to achieve, with a bit of practice, nothing is impossible. When the dog is familiar with the commands, you can scatter the toys in the room and tell it to put them in the right place. It is advisable to start with a smaller surface, and gradually cover multiple rooms. This game can get even more exciting if you start hiding them.

Games to play outside

As it was mentioned above, playing outside does not only mean to let your pet run freely. You need to engage it in fun activities, and through them to develop a desirable behavior. Dogs like to chase things and bubbles can be a great way to mimic a predatory attitude. They will love to observe, chase and hunt down the passing colorful bubbles. It is important to know that you need to purchase products that are pet-safe, in order to avoid intoxication due to accidental ingestion.

Bubbletastic Dog Bubble Machine

This game can be interchanged with a fetch session, to make things even more exciting. However, it is important to know that though sticks tend to be the most natural option, they can be dangerous, as they can cause lacerations, or digestive obstructions. As a result, you better bring some old toys in the park with you and keep it safe for your pet.

Dog playing outside with a Frisbee

Frisbee is another game that can train the dog’s agility. In this case, your pet will be able to catch the saucer in midair. There are various discs available, according to the pet’s type, weight and agility. Playing with water is extremely fun, especially during long and hot summer days. You can play either at home with a sprinkle, or you can visit a canine-friendly beach.

Want to see if your pooch is up for a game of catch? Check out our article on the best frisbee dog breeds in the world.

In both cases, the dog will enjoy running through water together with you. It is also good to know that there are toys specially designed for the hot weather that can be filled with water, for extra freshness. Sniff the toy is an interactive game that tests the agility of your dog. In this case, you need to hide the toy somewhere in the back yard. Show it to your pet and make it sit. After you place it somewhere safe, release the dog and encourage it to find it. You can increase the difficulty gradually to prevent boredom.

If you’re looking for other games you can enjoy with your dog, here’s a great list of the coolest dog toys you could add to your dog’s toy bin.

Safety tips

In order to enjoy a fun playing session, you need to consider your pet’s safety. Signs like fatigue and heavy breathing indicate it’s time to stop. This is why it is better to schedule playing periods between 5 to 30 minutes. Here are some helpful tips that you need to know to be able to protect your pet:

  • dogs cannot sweat, as a result they cannot cool off. This means that you need to give it water, or ensure access to water during the playing session. Signs like heavy panting or glassy eyes are indicators of heat stress, thus you need to stop and to take it to a cool place inside the house;
  • the daily exercise routine needs to be built gradually. It is not recommended to exaggerate with tough games, as they can lead to injuries like torn ligaments.
  • puppies are frail, thus they require extra care. To be more exact, it is mandatory to avoid exercises that have high-impact on the spine as they can affect the growth. In their case, jumping and sustained running are out of the question.
  • old dogs, those that have physical problems or are out of shape require a prior visit to the veterinarian before starting a game routine. It is better to see which moves are healthy and which need to be avoided in order to prevent major injuries.

Dogs, just like humans, require balanced food and exercise in order to be healthy. The best way to make your pet move is through playing. As it was presented above, there are various games that can be played inside and outside.

Woman playing with a puppy

It is up to you to find the ones that your dog enjoys. Also remember that you need to plan each playing session in advance and to watch out for any signs of fatigue. With a bit of discipline, you can both have fun while working out the muscles and joints. Just remember that you must not force your pet to do something that it is not comfortable with.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.