Games to play with dogs
Dogs play because it helps them learn motor skills, build social cohesion, and prepare for unexpected things to happen so they can cope better when they do. It’s important to play with your dog because it helps to strengthen the human-animal bond.
Not all dogs like to retrieve. Start with a toy tied on a lunge whip. Drag the toy around excitedly and the dog will probably chase it. If he does, this can be the game for a while. Then start throwing one toy tied with a thin line a short distance and have another toy in the other hand. If the dog goes to the thrown toy, guide her back with the line and show her that the other toy. The two-toy method helps many dogs learn to interact instead of just taking a toy and going off to play with it. The dog also learns to trade the toy in his mouth for the toy you have in your hand, which is more fun because you can keep that toy moving to entice him to continue to play with you. Add words for trading toys; “trade,” “drop it” or “give” are common words used.
The game of tug, with rules, is a very healthy, educational game. You start and end the game, and if the dog ever puts her teeth on your skin, the game is over. Use an emotional tone to say “Ouch!” if you feel teeth on your skin. This helps dogs learn to play within limits. Self-limiting behavior is normal for dogs: Watch well-socialized adult dogs play with puppies or senior dogs. They sense what is appropriate and play accordingly. Again, you can use two toys to help the dog learn to drop the one she is holding, signalling the end of one game and the start of another.
Keep them thinking! Hide food, treats and favourite toys to encourage them to search daily. When a dog finds these hidden treasures, reward him with lots of praise.
Many dogs enjoy agility training and benefit from the experiences that come with doing something physical. In agility training, dogs learn how to really use their bodies — and all four feet. Fearful dogs learn to be more confident, overweight dogs get some great exercise, but just about any dog can benefit from learning to negotiate his way over, under, through and around objects. Agility training can be fun for your dog – and for you, too. Remember to check with your veterinarian before beginning any weight loss or exercise program with your dog.