Playtime with your dog is important for a number of reasons. Besides being a great amount of fun, it also cements your bond, helps to ensure they get enough exercise, challenges their brain and can also be used to help puppy training (or to ‘re-fresh’ their training in adulthood if they’ve got a little slack!) From scavenging to ducking, diving and weaving, try out these games at the weekend.
Hide and seek
This game is a really fun way to help encourage obedience and teaches your dog that when they follow your ‘come’ command, they will be rewarded.
Tell them to ‘stay’ and then leave the room and hide. When you’re ready (and as they get better at the game, you can increase the length of time before you summon them) call their name and wait for them to find you… Be sure to make a big fuss of them when they find you, rewarding them with a treat, verbal praise or lots of cuddles.
Ducking, diving and weaving
If you’re feeling adventurous, an agility course with your dog is a lot of fun and needn’t be hard work to set up. Challenge their brain as well as their body by getting them to weave in and out of poles, line up chairs and throw a blanket over to make a tunnel and use brooms resting on up-turned buckets to make jumps.
Scavenge for gold
Our dogs’ ancestors, running around in the wild, would have had to scavenge for their food, so how about making treat-time or dinner time a little more challenging. Start by placing their food bowl in the room next door, then make it more difficult and hide it further afield from their normal spot. This works with treats too – trying hiding a couple treats and see how quickly your dog can sniff them out…
Deal or no deal
Start with four or five upside-down opaque containers and without your dog seeing, place a treat, toy or other incentive under one of them. Encourage your dog to sniff out the treat or toy and when they do, lift up the box and give them the treat. Keep adding more boxes and experiment with spacing them further apart or closer together to keep them progressing.
Always left to do the tidying up? Just like with small children, teach your dog that tidying up is fun… To train them, scatter their toys around the room (you can progress to the whole house, or play in the garden) and encourage your dog to find each one and return them to their toy box. In the beginning, encourage all three steps: picking up the toy, carrying it to their box and dropping it in. Once they get the idea, a simple command like ‘put away’ works well for the whole sequence. Be sure to reward them every time they drop a toy in the box.