Here are some games that paws would love to play! The fun moments spent with your pet would bring the two of you closer and establish a lasting bond.
Find a treat:
Teach your dog to look for his treats. Once he finds them, he sure will love it! You can also do this when you are leaving your pet alone at home, to keep him occupied.
- Tempt your dog with his favourite treat.
- Ask your pet to sit /stay at one place, and about 10 feet away from him, hide the treat where he can see you hiding it.
- Say find and send him to find the treats. When he finds it, praise him well.
- Repeat it a few times. Now turn your dog and keep the treat at the same place, and then ask him to find it.
- Once he is comfortable finding it, then proceed to the next stage.
- Select a second place to hide the treat and repeat the same procedure.
- Once he can find the treat at both the places, keep the treat at both the places and send him to find them.
- Then start placing the treat at any one place and encourage your pet to find it. If he doesn’t find it at the first place, encourage him to find it at the second place. Don’t guide him to go to the second place, let him take his own time and use his memory and nose.
- Similarly, you can add more places to hide the treats.
- To make it more difficult, take him out of the room, attract him with the treat, go inside, hide it and then send him to find it. Make the whole game very exciting for him, by motivating and encouraging him by the tone of your voice.
Find a toy
Teach your pet to look for his toy. Instead of a treat, use his favorite toy, and rest of the procedure is same as “Finding a treat”.
Toss your pet’s toy and teach him to get it back to you. Generally, the dog runs to fetch the toy, but does not give it back. In this case, he knows only half retrieve. This is mainly because of the owner’s mistake and not the dog’s!! Steps to correct retrieve?:
- Always have more than one toy with you while teaching your dog to play, so that there is no possessiveness for the toy.
- Sit at one place, start tempting your pet with the toy and then throw it and say fetch. Let him chase the ball, the minute he gets it, praise him with your voice or say “Good Boy” in a very exciting manner. Encourage him to come back to you. If he doesn’t come back, attract him with another toy and start playing on your own. As his attention comes back on you, throw the second toy for him to fetch. He will most probably drop the first one and go for the other. You should never take the toy away from him when he returns to you. The reason behind this is to make him understand that coming back to you is even better.
- You must praise him with a treat.
- You should always start and finish
- Initially play for only 5-10 minutes, and don’t wait for him to get tired or bored with the game.
- After the game, you must pick up all the toys and put them out of his reach. This will keep him interested at the next play session.
Retrieve stationary toys:
Keep your dog’s toys stationary and teach him to retrieve the same.
- In the beginning, you have to teach him to retrieve each toy separately.
- Take two of his toys, attract him and throw one and say ‘fetch’, for him to retrieve.
- When he retrieves the first toy, praise him well and immediately throw the second one.
- Keep practicing till he is comfortably fetching both the toys, one after another add a third toy and repeat the procedure.
- Show him all the three toys and throw them, one by one at a small distance from each other, and then send him to fetch them.
- Let him decide which one he wants to fetch first, and praise him when he comes back.
- Send him again to fetch the second toy. Initially even if he gets one or two toys out of three spontaneously, it is good.
- Repeat till he is retrieving all three with excitement.
- Now instead of throwing the toys, ask him to sit/ stay. Go and place the toys at a distance and then send him to fetch them.
- You may have to motivate him to fetch the toys.
Teach your pet to fetch his toy and drop it in the basket.
- First you have to teach him to drop the toys, after retrieving. That means when he returns with the toy, praise him with your voice but don’t touch the toy. If he wants to play more, he will start nudging you with the toy . The minute he drops it, praise him, pick up the toy and throw it again.
- You have to be patient, and never snatch the toy from him, because this will only make him more possessive.
- Once he knows the action, slowly start using the word “Drop”.
- Now get a basket of small height and wide, flat mouth and keep it in front of you while playing.
- Once he comes back with the toy, encourage him to drop it in the basket.
- You can use a treat to motivate him. Initially he may not be able to understand what you want, so place your hand on top of the basket and ask him to drop it in your hand.
- Slowly remove your hand when he drops the toy and praise him.
- If he drops the toy in the basket, praise him really well and give him a treat.
- After some repetitions, you only praise him when he drops the toy in the basket, this way he learns quicker.
Fetch the newspaper:
Teach your pet to get your newspaper to you.
- Roll the paper with a rubberband.
- Teach him to fetch it in the same way as any other toy and praise him with treats.
- At the time of practice, keep the paper at the same place.
- Once he picks up the paper, don’t ask him to hold initially or let him sit with it because he will start chewing it. Encourage him to come back to you and offer a treat.
Passing the parcel:
Teach your dog to take a toy from one person to the other.
- Two people are required to play this game, i.e. person ‘A’ and ‘B’.
- ‘A’ will hold the dog, and ‘B’ will have his favourite toy and some treats in his hand.
- ‘B’ will now tempt the dog with the toy and ‘A’ will release him towards B.
- When he comes close, ‘B’ will drop the toy just in front of him and ask him to fetch .
- ‘B’ should encourage him to fetch the toy and praise him with a treat after the dog retrieves the toy to him.
- Repeat few times with same people, toy and place.
- Once the dog knows that he is praised only when he picks up the toy and gives it to ‘B’, then ‘B’ must keep the toy on the floor, in the middle and ask him to fetch it.
- ‘A’ must ask him to hold the toy and go to ‘B’. ‘B’ must praise him, only when he gets the toy.
- One must keep the people, toy and the direction in which the dog is sent same so as not to confuse him.
- Repeat every step unless you get it correct, with lot of excitement and praise.
Tug of war:
While playing tug of war most people cannot take the toy out of the dog’s mouth and he almost every time ends up winning the game or learns to growl at the owner if they try to take the toy away from him. To avoid this and to play a proper game, follow this:
- Before playing this game, tell your pet to sit.
- You must always start and finish
- Start tempting him with a toy and once he catches it, start tugging.
- This game should never be played with aggressive or extremely possessive dogs.
- When you want to end the game, stop tugging and distract him with a treat or another toy.
- Once he leaves the first toy, say ‘Good Boy’ and stop the game.
- If he doesn’t stops and keeps jumping up for more, ask him to sit for 2 minutes.
- Once he calms down, start again.
- After the game is over, keep the toy out of his reach.
Kong or boredom blaster toys are perfect even to feed your dog his daily diet. When you make him work for his food, he will definitely be happy and occupied at the same time.
Tip?: Before playing any game, you must create the excitement by tempting your pet with his favourite toy. Don’t expect things to happen in the first turn. It takes practice, persistence, patience and lots of rewards in terms of treats and your excitement too. It should be fun for your pet and you. The idea is to spend quality time together.
(Pooja Sathe is trained under Northern Centre For Canine Behaviour and Training, UK. One can learn basic pet dog training and care in 6 weeks from her. The classes start from 5th of February, 2005. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph-09820596903, 022-24165358-Mumbai)