Playing is a great way to bond with and stimulate your dog. You probably already know how to play with your dog but get bored with the same games like fetch over and over. The more you vary your play, the better.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when devising ways to play with your dog:
• Keep activities appropriate for your dog’s size, age, and fitness level.
• Provide opportunities for physical and mental stimulation.
• Engage multiple senses.
This will keep your dog engaged and alert. Here are 5 ways to incorporate these ideas.
Hide And Seek
This is a fun game that reinforces a good “stay” command and encourages your dog to use his nose. Tell him to stay in one room, then hide somewhere else. Once you’re good and hidden, tell your dog to come. He’ll follow your scent to find you. If he has trouble, make sounds to get his sense of hearing involved: tap on a wall or call his name softly. Add difficulty as your dog gets better at the game: hide next to a couch or table to start, then move up to hiding in a bathtub or in a room with the door mostly shut behind you.
Read More: Teach Your Dog To “Stay” In 2 Minutes
Outdoor Obstacle Course
Home agility courses turn your backyard into a doggie playground. This complete agility course includes a variety of activities, including bars to jump over and poles to weave through. It comes with a training guide to help you teach your dog to use the activities.
Indoor Obstacle Course
No backyard, or bad weather keeping you inside? Turn your living room into an obstacle course. Rest the ends of a broomstick on stacks of books. Start with a low bar, then as your dog clears it more easily, add more books to raise the bar and the difficulty. For taller dogs, put two dining chairs together with the front of the seats facing each other. Use this to teach “paws up” and “over.” Arrange chairs in a line through the room, then teach your dog to weave left and right through the line.
Red Rover, Red Rover
Invite a friend to play with you and your dog. Stand at opposite ends of the room. Have your friend call your dog and put him in a “sit.” Then, have your friend say “Go to Mom!” as you call your dog and tell him to "come." Praise him generously when he gets to you. Then reverse it: put your dog in a sit, then tell him to “Go to (friend’s name)!” as your friend calls your dog. This reinforces “come” and teaches “go to” while giving your dog a chance to do some sprints.
Read More: How To Teach A Dog To "Come"
Treats And Cups
Ever seen a street magician perform the trick with three cups turned over and a ball hidden under one for a participant to find? You can do the same trick with your dog. Turn over three plastic cups on a table or the floor. Hide a treat under one, then slide the cups around and watch your dog use his eyes and nose to find the treat. For a bigger challenge, use a dog puzzle for dogs which has seven compartments for your dog to search.
These 5 ideas are just the beginning of how to play with your dog. As you play, mix things up, add challenges, and adapt games as you learn what types of games your dog prefers. Playtime is a wonderful way to strengthen your bond with your dog, so have fun with it.
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