Playing is your dog’s way of learning new things about the world in an exciting and safe way. Engaging in these best games to play with your dog will keep your pup's mind stimulated, get his body active and help strengthen the bond between the two of you. Many of these games reward obedience as well, so your dog is learning better behaviors too.
Table of Contents
You can use dog treats or a clicker and plenty of praise as a reward for your Fido when he does a good job. Remember, it’s very important to be really patient with your pup at all times, as it might take him a little while to learn all the rules of the game.
It will be really rewarding for you both when he does figure things out. Make sure everybody in the family is on board with playing fair, to keep your pooch looking forward to game time! Whether indoor or outdoor, here are some of our favorite games that you will enjoy playing as much as your doggy does.
7 Best Games to Play With Dogs
1. Mystery Treat Location
This is a bit like the three cup monte employed by shady street magicians, except our version ensures everyone’s a winner. This game rewards your pooch for exploring his environment and finding a hidden treat, and it stimulates the dog's brain similarly to most other best interactive dog toys out there.
Start out simple with three or four boxes placed upside down and put a small dog treat underneath one of them and let your doggy sniff it out. When he finds the right box, reveal the treat and give him lots of praise. If your pooch has some trouble with this game, use a small piece of dog-friendly meat warmed in the microwave for a few seconds to increase the scent.
Up the ante with this game by adding more objects of varying sizes, shapes and weights, and varying the amount and kinds of treats that are beneath them. He’ll love the challenge and appreciate all the snuggles that come every time he gets the right answer.
RELATED: Top 5 Best Healthy Dog Treats
2. Extreme Fetch
This is a more advanced version of the above challenge, and has some great obedience training elements as well as lots of tennis-ball related anticipation for your pooch. Start by practicing some games of fetch. Then have your dog obey the stay command while you walk off a little way with the ball.
Make him stay and drop the ball at your feet. If he obeys the stay command, you can gently kick the ball in his direction and give him a signal like ‘go’ or ‘fetch’ and let him pounce on that pesky ball. If he doesn’t stay, just ignore him for a few minutes at a time until he learns that waiting gets the reward.
Once you guys have that part down, you can start throwing the ball or toy further and further, making your doggy stay until you give the go command. Keep this up until your dog is able to find the ball no matter how far you throw it. Of course, make sure you do this somewhere where it’s safe for him to roam free, or keep him leashed and let him lead you to the tennis ball treasure.
3. Finders Keepers
One of the best games to play with your dog is Finders Keepers. This game is similar to Extreme Fetch, except your doggy doesn’t have the advantage of seeing the throw. Take the ball or a small treat and walk off while your dog stays. Again, if he gets confused and tries to follow you, just reiterate the command and ignore him until he understands that you want him to wait.
Begin by walking off a few feet and dropping the ball. Then tell your dog he can go and let him find the ball, giving lots of lovely praise when he does. Over a few sessions, increase the difficulty by hiding it in ever-harder to figure out places so your pooch has to use his nose and his noggin to work out where it is.
RELATED: The Best Dog Toy
As long as you keep up the praise every time he finds it, he will enjoy the challenge. Too easy? Try feigning the drop and actually hiding the ball somewhere else when your doggy isn’t looking, or hiding multiple items.
4. Obstacle Course
Creating an obstacle course is so much fun, and you can tailor it to your doggy’s age and agility and adjust the difficulty to suit his needs. Another great thing is that you can recycle items that you were going to throw away and repurpose them, or use things from your home.
Create jumps from pretty much anything you like. Start out with something small that your dog can easily leap over then move up to something higher and wider like a box or a milk crate. Always increase size increments steadily as a stumble could throw your pooch off wanting to play again.
Even better, if you have the DIY chops, build a jump from old PVC pipes. Check out this simple tutorial from Instructables user chuybregts: http://www.instructables.com/id/Dog-Agility-Jump/
Kitchen chairs, stools and low coffee tables are nice and sturdy and make ideal pause tables. Chairs are also a great obstacle for running beneath, just make sure that if the chair has bars, they won’t be too low for your pooch to run through.
RELATED: Best Dog Agility Training Kits for Dogs
An old box with both ends opened makes a great makeshift tunnel, or pick up a collapsible children’s play tunnel from your local toy store. PVC pipes, bamboo stakes (with blunt or sanded ends) and trellises are all cheap, cheerful and make ideal weave poles. Start your dog with the poles wider apart until his toys with weaving through them, and steadily decrease the space between each pole.
Over time your dog will get faster and more adept at the course and you can make it even more challenging for him. If your dog loves it, maybe even consider signing up for doggy agility classes together? Doggy obstacle courses are certainly one of the best games to play with your dog.
5. Tidy Up
This game is a pretty nifty way to teach your pooch to put away his toys, and the best thing is that it’s still fun and dogs love it! Some doggies will get the gist of this game quickly enough if you tap the toy basket or box when they have the toy in their mouth and drop it in. Most pooches, however, will need a little more help than that, so you can use reinforcement techniques.
When your pooch has the toy, wait for him to naturally look at the basket and click or praise him. Keep that up every time he looks at it and the toy is in his mouth – soon he’ll learn ‘hey, I get rewarded when I do that, so I’ll do it more.’
RELATED: How to Choose the Right Dog Toys by Age
Continue to praise him every time he's holding the toy in his mouth and looking at the basket, moving towards the basket and so on, until you get him to bring the toy back. Now, the tricky part might be getting him to drop it in, and you have to have some patience to have him do it naturally. Once he does, unleash torrents of praise and your dog will soon be putting all his toys away quick as a flash.
The best games to play with your dog are simple and fun for both of you. Bubbles are great for summer, so easy, and will keep your pooch exercised and entertained for hours.
All you have to do is buy some dog-safe bubble mix (this can be found online or in pet stores), get out into the garden or park and start blowing bubbles! Your doggy will love chasing and snapping at them, and you get to just relax and watch him have fun.
7. Hide and Seek
This is a great one to play even if it’s just the two of you, but it gets even more fun when there are lots of people around. It’s also the simplest game there is! Hide somewhere in the house and call your dog, and when you get found give him a little reward and praise.
Make your hiding places get increasingly more difficult, and lower your voice each time, or get competitive and start timing your pup!