4 Games Your Dog Can Learn From

When it comes to dogs, it’s time to reject the idea that work is work and fun is fun. School is in session every time we interact with our dogs— even during lighthearted play, they are always learning. Here are seven fun games that teach dogs practical lessons that will help them be upstanding members of society. (These descriptions highlight the benefits rather than provide step-by-step instructions for each game.)

1. Chase

Consider this game if you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t like to play; once she’s been enticed into a game of chase, you may see her fun side come alive. Another plus: when you want to reinforce your dog but have no treats or toys handy, chase can be a go-to way to make your dog glad she listened to you. And, because it teaches your dog to move toward rather than away from you, it can help with recall training.

Consider this game if you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t like to play; once she’s been enticed into a game of chase, you may see her fun side come alive. Another plus: when you want to reinforce your dog but have no treats or toys handy, chase can be a go-to way to make your dog glad she listened to you. And, because it teaches your dog to move toward rather than away from you, it can help with recall training.

For it to work, your dog must always chase you, not the other way around.

While “chase” can easily turn into the not-so-wise-or-fun game of “let’s nip the human’s ankles, legs or behind,” for the right dog played the right way, it can be a fantastic way to teach your dog to pay attention to you because you’re fun, and lays excellent groundwork for a reliable recall. Change directions often, and to avoid trouble with an aroused dog becoming mouthy, stop running before your dog gets to you.

dog fetch

2. Fetch

When we think about playing with dogs, this is the game that most often comes to mind. Fetch is a cooperative activity, and each player has a role that must be fulfilled for it to work. (Many people tell me that their dog loves to play fetch and then go on to say that the dog chases the ball but won’t bring it back, or won’t drop it. That’s not fetch—that’s running after a ball and hoarding it.)

Read more: Learn how to teach your dog to play fetch.

Fetch has a lot to offer, including the skill of dropping an item upon request. It also provides opportunities to work on high-level obedience. After a few throws, during which the dog has retrieved an item, brought it back to you and dropped it at your feet, take a short break and ask her to do something specific: sit, down, high-five or any behavior she can do on cue. Then resume play. Adding this training into a game of fetch can be done sporadically so that most sessions are pure fun and games for your dog.

By switching between the excitement of running and the discipline of responding to a cue, the dog learns to transition between high arousal and being calm. Teaching dogs to have an on/off switch develops emotional control that will serve them well throughout life. (Another perk: Your dog gets exercise without much effort on your part, which is particularly appealing when you just want to enjoy your morning coffee while your dog burns up some energy.)

3. Find Your Treats

Dogs have a lot of fun with this deceptively simple treasure hunt, but the “treasure” must be something your dog cares enough about to search for. It gives your dog mental exercise, keeps her occupied for a while and is a great party trick that allows your dog to show off.

Begin by putting some treats on the floor or furniture without your dog seeing you do it. Say the cue (“find it” or “find your treat” are frequently used) and tap or point to the treats. Repeat … a lot … over many days or weeks. When your dog starts to look for the treats upon hearing the cue, drop the tap or point. Once your dog is familiar with the game, have her stay, then release her to find the treats. At first, hide the treats before you ask her to stay; after your dog’s stay is solid, you can have her do so while you hide the treats, either within sight or even in another room.

dog hide and seek

4. Hide-And-Seek

Here’s another game that teaches your dog to go on a search, but with you as the focus of the quest. It’s a great way to practice and improve a dog’s ability to come when called. To play, she must already know what “come” means.

Begin indoors. Call your dog when you are partially out of sight, perhaps crouched down next to a piece of furniture or behind a plant that doesn’t entirely conceal you. When your dog finds you, reinforce her with top-quality stuff —treats, a toy, a bone, a chew, play time or a walk. Gradually work up to more obscure hiding spots, until you can be completely hidden from sight when you call her.

Add in “stay” practice by putting your dog on a stay, hiding, then releasing her and calling her to come. For many dogs, the anticipation of being released makes them respond even more enthusiastically when called.

Expect your dog’s recall to improve dramatically if you play this game on a regular basis. You are teaching your dog that “come” means to do it even if you are not in plain view, and because it’s a game with reinforcements, dogs find it fun and worthwhile.

Playing this game when you are out in a (safe) off-leash area teaches your dog to keep an eye on you, and helps her understand that if the two of you become separated, she should look for you. And vice-versa—it’s not one-sided.


source: https://thebark.com/

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