When dogs are bored and cannot expand their massive amounts of energy, their behavior can become troublesome. To keep them entertained and well behaved, you should play games with your dog. This activity will be fun for both of you, and it will allow your pup to get the exercise it needs to get their energy out. Here are 10 fun games you can play with your dog:
1. Flirt Pole
This is a great way to get the dog to stay physically and mentally active. This method is especially good for high energy dogs because just one quick session of this game can get the dog to tire out.
Some times known as a flirt stick, a flirt pole is a long pole with a rope attached to the end of it. At the end of the rope a lure (ball, dog toy, etc.), and it is there to get your dog to try to chase it. This activity is great exercise, and it forces a dog to use its mental capabilities better, tapping into much needed mental stimulation. It is a way to let the dog use its prey instincts in a safe, non-destructive way. It’s a great tool for practicing impulse controls like letting go of an object on command.
When playing with the flirt pole, remember that occasionally you need to let your dog catch the lure (aka let the dog win). By doing so, you keep the dog motivated and engaged in the fun of the game. If the dog never catches the lure, it becomes discouraging, and will soon lose interest in the game. You can either buy a flirt pole in a pet store or Amazon, or just make your own using some PVC pipe, a dog toy, and a bungee cord.
When starting out, take it slow. It is a high impact activity and can be tough on your dog’s joints. If your dog is not generally active, its good to start with very short sessions, and gradually grow them in longevity as the dog adjusts.
Be careful with dogs that have mobility issues or arthritis. If that is the case, a flirt pole is not recommended, as such high impact exercise can cause more joint damage, so look for something that engages a dog in a lower impact activity.
2. Play Tug Of War
This is a very popular game with dogs. It is engaging, gets a dog to practice manners, and it is a fantastic source of physical exercise. When playing, just remember the basic rule: if the dog’s teeth touch our skin, the game needs to stop. The tugging gets some dogs and puppies very riled up, so some struggle to contain the competitiveness coupled with their animal instincts. If you stop when the teeth touch the skin, they will learn that the fun game goes away when they mouth their person, and they will learn not to do so.
Some believe that playing tug of war with your dog makes him more aggressive. This is simply not true. Nor is it true that letting your dog win makes him believe that he is more dominant. When you let your dog win, he will be less likely to get bored with the game, and it encourages your dog to play with you more.
3. Play Frisbee
A very fun game to play with the pup is a frisbee. It is an advanced game of fetch as it promotes exercise, and gives your dog’s ability to chase things for long distances. A dog has a natural drive to chase, as many breeds were bred to chase smaller animals like vermin away.
If your dog is only learning, start with a soft disc. Traditional frisbees are solid, and when a hard object like that hits your dog, especially on a sensitive part of their face like their snout, it discourages the dog from wanting to play it more. You can get the dog excited about this activity by tossing the frisbee short distances or even rolling it along the ground. If you encourage them to follow it around and chase it, the dog will be more excited to play as you increase the distance the frisbee is thrown, gradually.
4. Agility Course
This activity is great exercise, mentally stimulating, and can serve to teach a dog new tricks. The dog will have to use a heightened focus on performing one thing after another, which will likely tire it out, letting it expand its energy.
While you can certainly buy plenty of obstacle course items at a pet store, some people prefer making their own. Use blankets for jumping over, a hula hoop to jump through, and setting up mini cones can let the dog learn to weave around them.
5. Use Kong Stuffing & Food-Dispensing Toys
One of the easiest games to play with a dog is by giving it an entertaining toy like Kong. It helps not only to keep the dog entertained for hours, but is a great object of distraction if your dog experiences anxiety when you are leaving the home.
You can stuff a Kong with tasty treats, and it can keep a dog busy for a while. Freeze the Kong overnight full of treats and the dog can treat itself as it plays with this great activity toy.
Food dispensing toys like Bob-A-Lot are also great for stimulating your dog mentally at mealtime. You fill the toy up with food, and the dog gets to knock it around until the food comes out. This may require some practice initially, but keep encouraging them to knock it around and to then look for the food that comes out.
6. Chasing Bubbles
It might be surprising but much like a child, one of a dog’s favorite games is catching bubbles. In order to teach your dog to do this, start by blowing a few bubbles at a time, then point out them and encourage the dog to chase them. You can even catch a few yourself to show your dog that there is nothing to be scared of and that the point of the game is to catch the bubbles before they hit the ground.
Make sure to wipe your dogs face-off after bubble games. While the bubbles are non-toxic, swallowing too many of them can give a dog an upset stomach. Additionally, extended exposure can irritate the dog’s eyes.
7. Play Water Games
Dogs love going to the beach and playing chase in the water. If you know that a toy floats, you can bring some of your dog’s favorites along and play a game of fetch on the beach. If your dog is not a very good swimmer, or there are no beaches nearby, you can play in your backyard pool, or even set up a kiddie pool for the dog to splash around in. Throw in some toys for a little “bobbing” type game, much to the dog’s delight.
Some dogs love playing with water shot from the hose, and get very excited at the prospect of doing so. However, some dogs are very intimidated by it. These dogs may benefit more from running through a sprinkler that doesn’t’ release such a heavy stream of water.
8. Play Find The Treats
A great favorite of many owners is the “find the treats” game. Dogs typically don’t even care if the hiding spots are the same and that the treats are the same, they love it anyway. The lack of creative hiding spots doesn’t matter to them, and it lets their noses develop better sniffing sensory as they sniff out the treats.
To start, while your dog is in a stay position, put some treats on the ground. Then, give your dog the “release” command, and work with them to find the treats. If the dog is struggling, point to the treats and guide them along. Most importantly, every time they find one, praise them, and encourage them to keep looking.
Once your dog learns the concept of the game, you can slowly increase the difficulty level of where you hide the treats. Once your dog is a pro at the game, you can begin hiding them extensively around the house giving your pup hours of entertainment.
9. The Digging Box
If you would prefer your dig loving pup not dig up your landscaped property or garden, get them a digging box. You can even make one out of some wood and sand, both things that you can get from your local hardware store. Make sure you include a top to keep local cats from using it as a litter box.
Some dogs will dig for hours, but some may not take to it right away. In that case, you can make it a game by burying some toys in the digging box and encouraging your dog to find them.
10. Hide & Seek
Hide & seek may be one of a dog’s favorite games, as they are unlikely to get sick of it, even if you use the same hiding places over and over. Tracking you down also allows them to use their scent tracking abilities, which is a fun and stimulating activity.
Have your dog stay while you hide. Once hidden, call your dog, and when it finds you, praise it for doing such a good job. If your dog does not do well with staying commands, you can get another person to keep the dog sitting in place while you hide.