We asked dog owners to share their dog's favourite games to play. Here's what they told us, and why they think your dog will love to play them too.
This is the old classic. Engaging a dog’s natural instinct to retrieve is a great way to stimulate his mind and keep him fit. Naturally, there are certain breeds that prefer this game to others but you’ll do well to find a dog that doesn’t enjoy it, even for a little while.
Why your dog will love to play fetch
Two reasons. Firstly, it is natural for some dogs to retrieve, it has been part of their instinctive behaviour for many generations and acting upon their instincts is a good way for a dog to learn and develop. The second reason is less obvious but equally important. What do you do every time your dog brings back that stick or ball?
That’s right, you give him praise and attention. It’s a game most dogs can do with ease and therefore it is a game where the dog knows he’s doing well.
In this video clip, we see a dog that has learnt to play fetch by himself!
2. Treasure Hunt
All dogs have the ability to find things by smell. Stimulate this by getting your dog to find the treasure that you’ve hidden around the house. You may need to start off with some subtle guidance, but once you’ve established a word or phrase that triggers your dog’s hunting instinct, he’ll know what he’s in for. Don’t make things too accessible and also, hiding a meaty treat in a designer handbag isn’t a good way for you or your dog to make a good impression. It isn’t necessary to use a food reward as the treasure here, as long as you make sure you to let him know he did well when he finds the loot.
Why your dog will love to treasure hunt
He can use his scenting ability and memory to find the treasure. This is good mental exercise that also allows him to indulge his hunting instinct.
Here are two dogs searching for treats in their own treasure search.
3. Hide & Seek
Hide and seek is one that will require patience, persistence, obedience and concentration from your dog, as we explained in detail in the last issue. The thing about hide and seek that makes it a suitable game for almost any dog, is that it doesn’t require agility, speed or even fully functioning eye-sight, so those with older dogs can still stimulate their pet’s instincts with this game. As long as you make the effort to keep this game interesting, he’ll love it.
Why your dog will love to play hide and seek
There is a reward at the end of this game and that reward is you. Your dog loves to be challenged and he knows that as soon as you’ve put him in the starting position the clock is ticking towards treat time. Whether that treat is a big dose of fuss, a snack or another game of hide and seek, your dog knows that the minute you tell him to wait, it’s play-time.
Here's a clip of a dog learning to play hide and seek!
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There are a lot of dog owners that didn’t know they had a footballing pet until their friendly kick-about was hijacked by a fourlegged Pele. A lot of dogs love to chase, they love the company and they love running about.
These are three things that they can do to their heart’s content when there is a football being kicked around. Of course, explaining the offside rule to an excited Dalmatian may be a touch difficult, so it works better at the local park than on the training pitch. Using a slightly deflated ball may prevent you from pulling off those silky cross-field passes you keep bragging about, but it will enable your dog to get a better grip on the ball. Always be careful when playing this one.
Why your dog will love to play football
Because you love football. If you’re having fun outside, your dog is going to want to get involved. He may not understand all the rules, but he gets a real kick out of running around, being chased and doing the chasing. A lot of dogs actually manage to develop quite respectable skills if given enough practice.
In this clip, we see a rather one-sided game of football. This dog needs to work on his passing, but he’s great at keeping possession.
Frisbee is similar to fetch in many ways but has the added bonus of the dog being able to catch the frisbee mid-air, something which isn’t advised when you’re throwing sticks.
An excellent activity for any dog that has the energy to burn off, so it's no surprise the sport 'Disc Dogs' is growing! However, this game is not suited to all types of dogs but can be adapted to make it work for most. Always be very careful with this game, as damage to teeth can occur if the frisbee is a hard one. There are specially designed, dog friendly frisbees available.
Why your dog will love to play frisbee
Playing with discs engages your dog’s concentration more than a lot of games. It may take a while to teach him how to catch the disc, but once he’s mastered it, he’ll love it. The agility required to jump and catch means that your dog will be challenged physically and mentally and then there’s the fetch element to it. Once he’s caught the frisbee, he can bring it back for you to throw again.
Don’t let your dog see this if he’s got self-esteem issues because the dog in this clip is in training for their Disc Dogs competition!
What games do you love to play with your pets? Send us your favourites and videos of your dogs playing – we'd love to hear from you!