January 28, 2023

Beyond Fetch: 10 Other Games to Play With Your Dog

  • Dog owners can agree that while having a dog is a lot of work, it is also a ton of fun. But just like kids, coming up with games to play with your pooch can be difficult. The good news is that there are countless ways to entertain your canine outside the game of fetch. Not only are these activities extremely fun for both pet owners and pup participants, they also allow family members to bond with their pets in addition to helping them increase agility, mental alertness and sociability. Here are 10 simple and entertaining games that you never thought to play with your dog.

  • 1. Blanket Hurdles

    While buying an outdoor agility course for your pooch would be ideal, not all of us have the money or space for it. Be creative and make a simple obstacle course inside your home with the help of a few everyday objects, like a couple of old blankets (or towels, whichever you prefer). Clear out enough space in the living room so your dog can run freely without hurting himself or your valuables. Place one or two rolled-up blankets on the ground (depending on how tall or agile your dog is). Walk your dog through the course and have him hop over the blanket a couple of times. Once he’s got the hang of it, ask him to stay at one end of the room and then call him from the other. He’ll use the rolled-up blankets as a fun and safe hurdle. If you find that your dog is an expert at this game, mix it up and use a few more rolled-up blankets throughout his “course.”

  • 2. Hide and Seek

    This childhood game isn’t just reserved for the human kids. Your pup can partake in the fun, too. Find one of your dog’s favorite toys or grab a handful of treats. Have your dog sit and stay in one room. Then, go and hide in another. Once you’ve situated yourself in a good hiding place, call your dog. When she finds you, reward her enthusiastically with treats and praise. This game will work both her brains and her senses.

  • 3. Doggy Treat Hunt

    It doesn’t have to be Easter for your dog to play this egg-hunt-inspired game. Grab his favorite smelly treats, either alone or stuffed inside a treat-holding toy, and hide them around the living room or backyard. Make sure your canine companion is in another room so he doesn’t see or smell the secret hiding spots. Then invite your dog into the room or backyard and watch him sniff away.

  • 4. Tug of War

    This game may seem basic, but it can be really beneficial for your pooch. Not only does it help her release her inner canine aggression, but it can also be a way for you to teach her how to “get it” and “let go,” all while getting in a good exercise. Try to teach your dog not to grab the toy until you say so. Do this by rewarding her for staying while you leave the toy on the ground. Once she has that down, move on to the action word “get it!” This will teach her that she is allowed to grab the toy. Now you can initiate the game. Next, your dog must learn how to let go. Let go of the toy and say “let go.” Once your dog releases the toy, reward her immediately. Keep practicing this as it’s probably the trickiest command a dog can learn in this game. Once she has that down, put them all together and have a fun and educational game of tug of war.

  • 5.  The Name Game

    You may not think your dog can actually understand you, but he totally can. The key to word recognition is practice, practice, practice. Start off simple using two of your dog’s favorite toys. Give them each a name. Make sure there are no other toys in the room to distract him. Now, call out the name of each toy. Try to keep the names basic, like "bear" or "cat." Say the name of one of the toys and throw it so he can fetch it. Repeat this a few times. Next, do the same with the other toy. Once you think your dog knows the name of both the toys, put them both on the ground and ask him to fetch one of them. Reward him with treats and praise every time he gets it right. Repeat this until you are certain your dog knows the names. If you have an extremely intelligent dog who easily gets both of the toys’ names, try introducing a few more to his vocabulary.

  • 6. Simon Says

    This game is great for dogs who already know the basics: sit, stay, down, roll over, shake, etc. Grab some treats and test your dog on his ability to understand command after command. Make sure to mix up the order every once in awhile to really keep your pup on his toes.

  • 7. Round Robin

    This fun activity is perfect for a family with children. Every member sits around the room (at least 20 feet from one another) with a handful of treats. Then, every person will take turns calling out their dog’s name. Every time the dog comes, he should be rewarded with treats and praise. When he has accomplished the game indoors, try taking it outside and spread out even further from one another!

  • 8. Frisbee Toss

    Any dog can catch a tennis ball, but what about a Frisbee? It truly takes agility and concentration for a pup to learn how to catch one of these flying discs. If your dog doesn’t innately know to jump and catch the Frisbee in the air, start off small. Roll the Frisbee on the ground towards your dog. After getting over the strange object, he will instinctually want to grab it in his mouth. Once you’ve accomplished this, try tossing it — at a very low level first — to your dog. If you feel like your dog is ready to go to the next level, toss the disc a little higher and further, and so on and so forth. Frisbee may turn out to be his new favorite game!

  • 9. Doggie Basketball

    Grab an empty laundry basket and your dog’s favorite ball. Demonstrate what you would like your dog to do. Drop the ball into the basket while saying “drop.” Make sure your dog is paying attention to this command and the motion. Once you think you’ve done it enough times, pass the ball to your puppy player. Every time he drops the ball into the basket when you say “drop,” reward him enthusiastically. It might take some time for him to learn that the goal is to put the ball into the basket, so coax him with treats. Make sure you emphasize the command “drop!”

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    10. Red Light, Green Light

    This game is perfect for children and family dogs who know how to “stay” and “come.” All participants, both humans and dog, spread out in an open yard. One person is the game moderator. Instead of saying "red light" and "green light," the keywords will be “stay” and “come.” The moderator will then call out the commands, which both humans and dog will have to abide by. Be sure to treat your dog after each command.