New Games for You and Your Pooch to Try

Playful pupYou probably have a couple of favorite games that you and your dog love to play together. Playing games with your dog has many benefits: it helps you bond with your pup, it gives you both the chance to get some exercise, and it challenges your dog mentally.

It helps to challenge your dog even further when you switch it up: try some new games! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Vary the Way you Play “Fetch”

To make things exciting for your pup, you can put a twist on how you play “fetch” in a number of ways. Try using a different toy than you usually do–a stuffed animal works well if you’re playing inside on a rainy or snowy day. You can also try throwing the ball or toy in a different way than you usually do. Each time you throw, change up the height, direction, and distance you’re throwing the toy to keep your pup on his toes.

Play “Tag”

You’ll need at least one other person to play this one. Each of you should have a pocket full of treats and position yourselves on either side of the house or yard. Alternately summon your dog, dispensing a treat or lots of encouragement and praise each time he comes to you. This is a great way to tire out your pup on a rainy day when he can’t go outside much.

Give Your Dog “Scent Work”

Dogs were born for scent work, so they will naturally pick up on indoor scent games! Get a few containers, such as plastic cups or bowls, and a couple of treats. Show your dog a treat hidden under one of the containers, and let him sniff it. Then, mix up the order in which the containers are placed and cue him to find the treat. He’ll learn to find the hidden treat by scent and flip over the container to get at it.

Make an Obstacle Course

This can be super fun and challenging because you can do it differently each time! Plus, it’s a good game for indoors or outdoors.

Look around your house to find things that can be turned into obstacles. They might include: a milk crate for your dog to balance on, a box with two open ends that he can crawl through, a basket and strewn-about toys that you can cue him to pick up and put away, a pole or footstool that he can leap over, and any number of other items that seem like they’d work for this purpose. Once you have it all set up, guide your dog through each obstacle and then repeat until he knows the course. Encourage him to go faster and faster, and reward him with lots of praise or a treat!

Running up the Stairs

This is a great way to have fun with your dog and also get him tuckered out. Start at the bottom of the stairs and throw a toy up to the top of the stairs. Cue your dog to run and get the toy by saying, “Ready… Set… Go!” and cheer him on as he hurries to fetch it. Let him take his time coming back down to bring you the toy, and then repeat the process.