By now we’re all tired of COVID and the need to self-isolate. But let’s be honest, it’s not all bad. If you have a dog, have you stopped to wonder how much they enjoy having you home every day? Self-isolation offers the perfect opportunity to spend time with your dog so why not make it count and teach your dog a new trick or two?
When we think of games to play with dogs ‘Fetch’ and ‘Frisbee’ probably comes to mind very quickly. But there are so many more games you can play with your dog. Games not only help to exercise your dog, but they also stimulate it mentally and create bonding between you and your dog.
So what games can you play with your dog? The list of games below has been compiled from a variety of sources and is by no means exhaustive. These are simply the games that I found most appealing but there are many more you can find and try with your dog.
Hide & Seek
Do you remember how much fun it was playing ‘Hide & Seek’ as a child? Well, you can have just as much fun playing it with your dog. It will be best if your dog at least knows the ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ command so it will wait where you command it to while you go and hide. Once you have found your hiding place, call your dog and enjoy watching as it searches for you, drawing ever nearer as your repeated calls lead it to you. If you hide where you can watch your dog searching for you, it can be very entertaining. It can also be fun if you hide under a blanket so your best friend thinks you have become a talking blanket when it finds you! Don’t forget to reward it with a treat when it succeeds in finding you.
If your dog has a variety of toys, give each toy a name and play with it until your dog recognizes the toys by the names you’ve given them. It may take a while for your dog to recognize the toys according to their names, but you have to be prepared to invest the time, and doing so can be fun in itself. Once your dog recognizes the toys by name you can hide any toy and let your dog find it. You can put all the toys in a pile and tell your best friend to go and fetch a specific toy. Reward your dog every time they fetch the correct toy.
You can also play traditional ‘Fetch’ by throwing two toys at the same time and telling it to bring the right toy. Alternatively, try throwing two or three toys at the same time and telling it to bring a specific toy. This will offer hours of play for dogs and you may well find your dog bringing their toys to you when they want you to play with them.
Set up an obstacle course for your dog. You can use furniture such as dining room chairs, sofas, recycled boxes, and anything else which could be helpful. You can include yourself as an obstacle by letting your dog have to run between your legs or by getting on all fours and letting your dog run or crawl under you. Try to make the course narrow so there is only one way for your dog to go through it and lead your dog with a treat on a string that you pull ahead of it through the course or by leaving treats in the course that lead your dog to the next obstacle. This will help your dog get some exercise as well as mental stimulation. Don’t forget to video your dog’s efforts in all the games so you can capture any sidesplitting or awesome moments. Try playing the video back to your dog. You might get an interesting reaction!
Change your walking route
Self-isolation doesn’t mean that you have to stay indoors 24/7. Exercise remains important and since many of us don’t have the skill to create a home gym the least we can do is go for a walk. If you have a dog, take your dog with you. Make sure you have a strong leash and, depending on your breed of dog, the strength to hold it back when necessary.
If you already take your dog for a walk, try taking a different route. If you think it’s hard enough keeping your dog’s excitement under control on its everyday route, try doing so when you go a different way around the neighborhood or to a different park. It will be like Christmas for your canine friend and depending on how strong your dog is it might just be a good workout for you too!
Toy on a String
Which animal doesn’t love hunting? We’ve all seen animals chasing other animals. When you think of a dog chasing another animal what comes to mind? Do you get a picture of a dog chasing a cat? I do, not that I have anything against cats for those of you who love cats too 🙂
So why not get a cat plush toy, tie a piece of string to it, and drag it around for your dog to chase? You could even tie it to your bike or your children’s bike or scooter and ride around the garden letting your dog chase the toy as you pull it along. Using a scooter or a bike means your dog will have to run faster to catch it, while dragging the toy yourself as you run, might give you more of a workout at the same time. You can either use toys sold at the pet shop or you can make your own. If you have children, they may be willing to part with a not so favorite plush toy that can be used or abused for the game.
Find the toy
Take your dog’s favorite toy if it has one and play this game. Find a few empty boxes or plastic containers and hide the toy under one of the containers. Make sure your dog sees you hide the toy. Move the containers around a few times and when you have finished, encourage your dog to find the toy under the container. Give it a reward when it finds the toy. If your dog does not have a toy that it thinks is worth searching for, use a snack in place of the toy and try to give your dog a better snack when it finds the snack hidden under the box or container.
Tug of war
Most of us have played this game as children or even adults. We can go as far as playing this game with our dogs as well. Have you ever tried to get something from your dog’s mouth that it refused to let go of? Sometimes it won’t let go to the extent that you can lift it off the ground while it desperately clings to whatever it has in its mouth.
Sometimes when we play fetch with our dogs, they fetch the item but don’t want to drop it when they come back. They seem to be trying to play their own game with you. As with other games, we need to have rewards to offer our dog to encourage it to drop the toy or item it may have in its mouth. Whatever the reward is that you offer your dog to release the item in its mouth, it should have more value than the item in its mouth to encourage it to let it go. This could be a toy it likes better or a treat that it loves.
This game can work well at home indoors or outdoors and it is a good thing to prepared for this when you take your dog for a walk. If let your dog run free, it might go exploring and return with some unwanted item in its mouth that it refuses to let go of. Having a treat or loved toy on hand should be enough of an incentive for your dog to release whatever it has dragged back to you.
The games mentioned here are just a few that you can take the time to play with your dog. They will increase your bonding with your furry friend as well help it and you exercise while mentally stimulating your dog as well.
These games can be combined with dog training that you can do at home or just to pass the time having fun with your dog. You can search for more activities to do with your dog once you have exhausted these games. If you prefer to play indoors, make sure that your treasured decorations are stored safely out of the way before you start. Remember, when the need for self-isolation is finally over, these games can still be played with your dog indoors or outdoors.
Thanks for reading. We hope you have enjoyed this article and that you and your dog will have hours of newfound fun playing these and other games.
American Kennel Club – akc.org – https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/fun-cognitive-training-games-for-dogs/
bechewy – be.chewy.com – https://be.chewy.com/15-minute-games-to-play-with-dogs/
Release the Hounds – https://www.releasethehounds.ca – https://www.releasethehounds.ca/canine-connection-8-fun-games-to-play-with-your-dog/