Games are not only for fun. Playing a variety of games will significantly improve the overall wellbeing of your doggie, both mentally and physically.
But don’t take my word for it. Research has proven time and again that a little bit of playtime will also improve the dog-owner relationship between you and your pet.
Remember that dogs are the only animals that retain certain traits of playfulness even as they grow old, which is eerily similar to humans. Playing cool and exhilarating games is a simple and humane way of strengthening the bond between the master (you) and the servant (doggie).
With that in mind, here are the 7 coolest games to play with your dog.
Does your dog know how to fetch? Good. But can he or she catch a Frisbee? Playing frisbee with your dog is similar to the game of fetch, but the former is more advanced since your dog will need to correctly gauge the height of the jump to catch the spinning disc.
Of course, this game is also a bit more physical and is not recommended for dogs suffering from arthritis or joint pain. If your pooch has canine arthritis, kindly refer to the rest of the games on this list.
If your doggie is new to this game, it is best to start with a soft disc rather than using the traditional Frisbee made of hard plastic. Start by rolling the Frisbee on the ground or tossing it over short distances until your dog gets excited enough to start a long chase.
Once your dog gets used to this game, you can transition from a soft disc to an actual Frisbee. I don’t know about you, but I feel a sense of pride every time my dog leaps up to catch a spinning Frisbee. It doesn’t get any cooler than that!
2. Swimming or water games
Swimming or water games are perfect for dogs suffering from canine arthritis. Swimming is a great low-impact exercise that will help improve the blood circulation in those achy and tired joints.
You can head to the local beach or you can make your own doggie version of a swimming pool at home. You can use a plastic kiddie pool and simply fill it up with water using a basic garden hose. It is also a good idea to bring along some floaty toys like a plastic ball or rubber ducky.
This is a simple and low-cost solution that you can easily set-up in your backyard. Best of all, the whole family can join in the fun. Your dog will love you for it.
3. Play ‘search’ games
I also call this game ‘find the treat’ since I mostly use yummy treats in the search game. This is a simple and fun indoor dog game to stimulate the natural sniffing abilities of your pooch. It is also mentally stimulating as well.
You only need a handful of treats (or toys like a tennis ball) to begin the game. This game is also ideal for dogs suffering from joint pain or arthritis.
- Start by hiding the treat in an unusual place inside your home or garage.
- Command your dog to stay or prone in position.
- Place the same treat in the ground and allow your doggie to sniff the treat.
- Remove the treat from the ground and give your dog the ‘go!’ or release command.
- Encourage your dog to find the treat. You can help him/her by pointing to different locations until the location of the treat is revealed.
- Praise your doggie each time they find the treat.
Once your doggie gets the hang of it, you can begin moving to other places inside the house, garage, or backyard.
4. The three cup game.
This game is pretty similar to the ‘search’ game above. But instead of hiding the treat in places around your home, you simply hide the treat under the cover of a plastic cup.
For this game, you will need three plastic cups and your doggy’s favorite treat.
- Step 1: Place the treat inside of the three plastic cups.
- Step 2: Shuffle the cups in different positions. Remember to keep your eye on the cup with the treat.
- Step 3: Line up the cups and give your dog the command to ‘Find!’ or ‘Go!’
- Step 4: Your dog will start sniffing the cups and bark or point at the cup with the treat.
- Step 5: Reward your doggie for a job well done!
For some dogs, this game might take a lot of practice. But this game is a simple way to enhance the sniffing skills and rational thinking of your pooch.
This is also a low-stress game that is ideal for pets with joint problems.
5. Tug of war
Contrary to popular belief, allowing your dog to win in a game of tug of war will NOT promote behavioral changes or dominance. Unlike the rest of us humans, letting your dog win in this type of game will make your dog think that you’re fun to play with and will likely ask for more. In fact, you can enforce a certain level of discipline if you do it right.
Before you start playing tug of war with your pooch, make sure that your doggie has a firm understanding of the ‘drop it!’ or ‘leave it!’ command. You can use a tug toy, thick rope, or a clean rolled-up towel to start the game.
There is one important rule to remember when playing tug of war with your pooch: the game ends the moment your dog’s teeth come into contact with your skin. This will tell your dog to never gnaw at the master. If your doggie gets more aggressive, give him or her a stern command to ‘Stop!’ or ‘Leave it!’ until he lets go of the rope. Give your dog a treat for a job well done.
Remember to let your dog win the game from time to time. This will help maintain a fun level of play for your canine.
6. The clean-up game
This is a relatively simple game that demands a lot of mental skills…. 🙂
The motive of the game is to teach your dog to clean-up and get organized. While this may sound too demanding for some, the game is nothing more than putting away the doggie toys inside a box or basket.
This game is also ideal if your dog is already familiar with the ‘fetch’ or ‘come’ command.
- Begin by scattering two or three toys on the floor. The objective is to teach your doggie to pick up each toy, carry it, and drop it inside the box or basket.
- Give your dog the command to ‘Clean up!’, ‘Tidy up!’, or ‘Put it away!’ until your pooch learns to pick up the toy and drops it in the box.
- Reward your doggie for a job well done.
If your doggie gets used to the clean-up game, you can scatter a few more toys over a larger area inside the room so your pooch can learn to fetch each toy and deliver it inside the toy box.
If your dog is the playful type of pooch, allow him or her to play with the toys first before starting the clean-up game. This is a simple game that will prevent your dog from getting bored indoors especially when it’s rainy or snowy outside.
7. Homemade obstacle course
Depending on the complexity of the course, this game might not be good for pets suffering from joint pain or arthritis. However, a simple obstacle course such as training your dog to walk under chairs is an effective way to exercise those tired and painful joints.
You can start a simple obstacle course by aligning two chairs together. Entice your dog to ‘Come over!’ or ‘Go!’ under the chairs to begin the game. Reward your pooch with a job well done if he or she completes the course.
Once your doggy gets used to the course, you can begin using other stuff like milk crates, stools, or even a pole placed between two boxes to train your doggie to hop or jump over the obstacle. You can let your creative side take over and create challenging courses that your dog must complete in a given time.
The trick is to work slowly and begin with simple tasks, then slowly work your way to more advanced obstacles until your dog learns to master them all.
Don’t forget to reward your dog with yummy treats and the complimentary hug after successfully navigating the obstacle course.
Which among the top 7 coolest games in this list is perfect for your dog? Start with simple games like the clean-up game and the three cup game and work your way from there. You will soon find out your dog will respond more naturally to your commands as you spend more time playing and having fun together.