The schedule is set, and your puppy is just getting comfortable in her new home. Now is the time to start having some fun. Many dog owners don’t realize the endless possibilities of puppy play time. Playtime is a great way to get your dog (and you) some exercise.
Games To Play With Your Puppy
Fetch: This is perhaps the most well known game to play with your pup. While a stick is the most classic fetch toy, different toys can add a lot of variety to this game. Rubber kongs will bounce on the ground and change direction. Frisby’s give your dog the possibility of a mid-air catch.
Scent Games: Dogs have a great sense of smell many times stronger than ours, and a larger portion of their brains are devoted to smell. One game to play is to present multiple different colored cups or containers to your dog. Start by tipping them on their side, and placing a treat in one. Your dog will enthusiastically go for the treat. Eventually, you can turn the cups all of the way over, and have them figure out which one the treat is under.
Water: Many dogs enjoy chasing after sprinklers or the streams from a hose. There are even dog toys designed with water in mind. However, some dogs may fear being sprayed or detest cold water. Cautiously introduce water games to your puppy. Run the hose in front of them and see how they respond. You will quickly find out whether or not your dog enjoys it.
Dogs are naturally great swimmers as well. Some dogs love swimming in calm rivers, ponds, and even pools. Just be sure to stay away from rough currents and any hazards you yourself wouldn’t want to swim near.
‘Soccer’: Some dogs love to play ball. Try kicking around a soccer ball and see how they respond. Some will excitedly chase and bite at the ball. For smaller dogs, toy balls are available in miniature sizes with softer textures.
This is the dog version of the classic ‘feather on a string’ cat toy. Tie a stuffed animal or other toy to the end of a rope. Move and tug the rope around, and watch your dog channel their wolf genes and chase their imaginary ‘prey’.
This is another classic game, and is a favorite of many breeds such as bull dogs, Labradors, and golden retrievers. However, certain rules must be followed so your pup does not develop aggression. This is a game where you have to be extra assertive in your pack leadership rule. Before playing, you have to make sure your dog understands and responds to a ‘drop it’ cue. They should immediately obey a stern ‘Drop It’.
Once playing, Make sure that you are determining when the game starts and stops. Don’t let them demand to play it. Always speak in a fun, upbeat way to your dog while playing. You can let them win sometimes, but you should be winning the majority of times. This is so you maintain your leadership status from your dog’s perspective. If they start to nip or bite during the game, stop immediately, and command them to sit for a time out.
Run with them:
If you yourself want some good exercise, you can always play with your dog like you yourself are their canine friend. Some dogs love to run around, chase, and be chased. Jump around on all fours with them, or bow to the ground and then swiftly change direction and run the other way. You shouldn’t ‘hand wrestle’ with your dog during this activity because it might encourage bite behavior.
Just like kids, dogs can love bubbles too! They like to chase, bite, or even just watch the bubbles go by. Make sure to use a pet safe, nontoxic bubble formula.
You’d be surprised at what’s lying around your house ready to be made into an epic and challenging course for your canine. They can jump through hula hoops, run through a tunnel of cushions, and jump onto a platform made of shoe boxes. Training your dog through an obstacle course will stimulate their brains and body, and can help you develop patience and leadership skills with your dog.
Having your dog run up and down stairs is a great form of exercise for them. It is a great if your dog has some excess energy and space is limited. You can play fetch with them, standing at the top of the stairs, throwing down their toy, and calling them back up. They will tire quickly, especially smaller dogs.
Find the Toy:
This is a more cerebral version of ‘fetch’. Instead of just throwing your dog’s toy. Command them to sit and stay, or have a friend keep them at bay. Then, with your pup watching, hide the toy somewhere in the yard. Release them and let them try to find it and bring it back to you. If they get good at it, make it harder. Hide the toy in tall grass or a low hanging tree branch.
Find the Treat: This is a great alternative to ‘Find the Toy’ for indoors, or for dogs with little interest in toy hunting but a good sense of smell. Have your dog sit and stay, then hide treats around the house. Make the hiding spots out of site, but not too challenging that your dog will get frustrated. You can put them under rugs, under boxes or cups, and inside their favorite toys. You can even buy toys that dispense treats. Once all the snacks are hidden, release the hound, and watch as they work their minds and their bodies to find the sweet rewards.