Start with the classics if you need help deciding what games to play with your dog or puppy. These tried-and-true activities, such as fetch and tug-of-war, can be enjoyable for you and your canine companion. (Tip: While playing, make sure to reward “wins” with treats.) Furthermore, games teach your pet new skills. Structured play promotes focus, agility, and obedience, which are especially important in puppies.
Here are some games you can play with your young dog and instructions for teaching them.
Fetch is a classic game that can supplement your command training by teaching your puppy to come when called.
Choose a toy that your dog already enjoys. If it’s new to them, give them praise and a treat whenever they interact with it. This will entice them to retrieve the object if it is thrown.
Toss the toy a short distance in an enclosed space, such as a room in your house. If they answer, call them back in a cheerful, encouraging tone. If they start playing with it on their own or fail to pick it up, repeat the process while reducing the distance of your throw.
Reward them with a treat and compliment them when they bring the toy back, even if only partially.
Teach your dog to drop the toy directly in front of you. If they respond, repeat the process until they respond, and remember to reward them. Don’t make up a new game in which you try to get the toy out of their mouth. Ignore them if they refuse to drop the toy.
Find the Toy
Find-the-toy activities (also known as “nose” or “scent games”) teach your pet to use its brain while relying on its sense of smell. These puppy games also help them prepare to become trackers.
Give each of your dog’s toys a unique name. Next, grasp it and say their favorite toy’s name, such as “It’s a squeaky toy.” If saying their name gets their attention, give it to them.
Choose a command, such as “find,” that will only be used for this game and when you want them to search for items later. Show the toy to your puppy while partially concealing it with a towel. “Now go get your squeaky toy,” you say. Compliment them if they find it; repeat the command if they do not respond.
Increase the difficulty by hiding the toy in difficult-to-find places and rewarding them for their success. The ultimate goal is for them to learn how to locate anything you’ve named. Try naming three to five toys, but two is a good starting point.
Tug-of-War is a popular puppy training game among pet owners, and it can be a valuable tool in teaching your dog to drop a toy on command. Furthermore, vigorous activity is an excellent form of aerobic exercise.
Hold your puppy’s favorite toy in front of them until they grab it with their mouth. You can make it appear as if you’re working harder than you are (they are, after all, puppies). Remember to give it to them on occasion. Praise them when they “win,” but make sure they follow the rules. If your dog becomes overly excited, you should stop the game. Reward them with kibble or small treats if they drop the toy when you say “drop it” during the game. They’ll eventually learn not to expect a reward when they release it.
Agility games get your puppy moving and thinking while burning calories and energy and improving coordination and confidence.
Puppies enjoy the challenge of hopping over obstacles and the praise they receive when they succeed. Create an obstacle course out of blankets and chairs in your living room. Use treats or kibble to entice your puppy. Follow them as they navigate the course, rewarding them when they overcome challenges and encouraging them as they advance.
Set up a course in your yard or park with cones, hula hoops, and other objects, and invite other puppies to join. Be creative!
Don’t Forget the Importance of Play
A puppy can make a fascinating addition to any family. Still, you do need to ensure that you meet all of its needs, including providing entertainment and physical and mental stimulation. You will both benefit from playing regular and inventive games, and you should aim to play for around 30 minutes each day, progressively increasing the challenge of the games you play.
Do you want to know more about puppy play, exercise, and care? Contact our team of puppy experts to get all of your questions answered!