Looking for ways to entertain your pup? It’s important — for both physical and mental health — to play with your dog. But let’s be honest: sometimes the endless rounds of fetch can get a bit tedious, for you and your dog alike. Shake things up with one of these five entertaining games.
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Hide and Seek
When the weather’s less than ideal, hide and seek is a great indoor activity. As a bonus, hide and seek is a great way to perfect your dog’s patience with the commands to “come” and “stay”; the game can also help anxious dogs get more comfortable with being left alone.
Here’s how to play: Tell dogs to stay. Hide yourself in your home — you might want to start with a fairly easy-to-find spot, so your dog won’t become frustrated. Once you’re hidden away, tell your dog to come. Once the dog has found you, lavish them with praise, toys, or treats.
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Sick of hiding around the house yourself? Try hiding things that your dog loves around your home — or outside in your yard — and watch your dog hunt them down. When you first start playing, lots of hints may be necessary, like pointing or using encouraging words as your dog closes in on the objects or treats. Think of it as a canine version of “hot or cold.” Eventually, your dog should improve, and not need as much paw-holding to play.
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If you’re playing inside, you can use chairs, couch cushions, or tables to set up a small obstacle course for your dog to navigate. Playing outside? You can use anything that you have around, from an old tire to a kiddie pool, to test your pup’s agility. Or you can go the elaborate route with purchases from the toy or hardware store to really beef up your obstacle course game.
Tug of war
A classic! Tug of war can be played with ropes or toys, and is often a dog’s favorite activity. Play tug or war inside or outside — just make sure it’s clear that dogs should never have their teeth on your skin or cause you any harm. And never forget that you are playing this game on your terms. If the play seems to be getting out of hand (i.e., grabbing at the toy before you are ready, refusing to let go, aggressive snarling), calmly take the toy away and try another game. Remember — even though it is a game, your dog might not see it that way. Tug of war (like all games) should be fun!
Much like fetch, chase is a dog classic. All you need to do is provide your dog with a toy on a pole. You can purchase something, or just rig something up with duct tape and a stick. Like cats, dogs will enjoy plenty of time spent going after the toy, whether you move it quickly or slowly. Just be safe when swinging the stick around.
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