Games to Play with Your Young Dog


Games Help Develop Intelligence and Motivation

There are a lot of fun but easy games that you can play with your young pup or dog, with the added benefit of developing better communication and understanding as well as a closer bond.  The games below are not only entertaining, but some can actually be useful outside of a play setting.

Hide and seek is always a great hit at our house. This is something even the neighbor kids could join in on. Have your dog sit and stay, or someone could hold him, then go off and hide. Keep it simple at first until he learns the game. Start out by hiding behind a chair, or a tree or other object close by and call him to you with enthusiasm, or have the person holding him ask excitedly “where did he go?” “Where is he?” “Find him!” When he finds you, make him feel extra special, maybe play tug with a sturdy rope, throw a favorite toy for him or give him special treat. Don’t over do it. Only have him search for you a couple of times to keep it fresh and interesting for him. As he figures it out, hide further away or in more difficult places. To increase the fun and usefulness of this game, you could teach him the different names of family members so you could send messages to family members, or find your kid that’s playing out in the back 40.

Helpful assistance dog

Helpful assistance dog. (Photo courtesy of Assistance Dogs of the West)

Find it or fetch it can also have everyday uses if you train your dog to find the keys, or the tv remote, your gloves, or other things that you frequently misplace. Start by putting your dog on a sit or down stay or hold the leash, then hide a favorite toy or treat while he’s watching you. Encourage him to “find it,” get excited and help him out at first. Make a big fuss when he finds it. Keep the training time short to keep his interest, as you don’t want him to get bored with the task you’ve given him. Gradually make it more difficult to find the object, but always let him win. As he gets confidant with one object, you can teach him the name of different objects and incorporate them into the game.

See how many things you can teach him the names of and how well he remembers them. This could be as simple as the hand towel in the kitchen or a hammer in the garage that he can get for you when you need them. Be creative. Just make sure to keep the items something he can easily handle and have access to, as well as they are not too big, awkward or heavy for him to carry. You may find that its kinda nice to have an extra set of paws around to help with your chores!

The shell game is the same as what you might see at a side show. Take two or three small boxes or cups and place them in front of your dog. While your dog is watching, hide a treat under one of the cups and encourage him to find it. Give him the treat when he finds it if he doesn’t knock the cup over and eat it by himself. As he gets better, you can increase the difficulty by adding another cup or moving the cups around after the treat is put in it.

Puppy learning weave pole. Photo © Bohm Marrazzo Photography.

Puppy learning weave pole. Photo © Bohm Marrazzo Photography.

You could set up your own agility course by using things that are already around the house, such as pvc pipes, boards, hay bales, tires, etc. Arrange them so that he can easily maneuver thru them without injury to himself. Encourage him to jump over, go under, or go thru different obstacles. Since the object is just to have fun, you wouldn’t need to teach him much more than ‘over’ or ‘under’ for commands. If you keep your voice excited and run with him, you’ll both have a blast and end up in a happy but worn-out heap at the end of the course!

Remember to keep it light for the younger dogs and have fun!

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