Fetch is a classic game that every dog loves to play. All you have to do is find a toy they are familiar with and toss it. This is also a great first game to teach your dog, as so many other games rely on their knowing how to retrieve.
To begin, at first throw it a short distance and say “fetch”. Instinctively, they will generally go right after it.
The trick is getting them to bring it back. Extend out an open hand and have them place the item in your open hand. You will have to work at this with them. Be sure to offer praise every time they do it correct.
When they return with the toy extend out an open hand. You can use the command “release” or “drop it”. Try to resist playing tug of war for the returned toy.
Frisbee is a version of fetch where you toss a Frisbee like disc out a much further distance and as it floats to the ground they will learn to catch it in the air and retrieve it.
When learning this game practice tossing it to your dog from a short distance. Every time they catch it in their mouth give them lots of positive reinforcement.
Some dog breeds really enjoy this game and will learn to catch the Frisbee, flying in the air, with a spectacular jump.
3. Running Alongside a Bike
Dogs love to run. This game may take some work, but if your dog handles the leash well you can have them run alongside you while you are biking. This is a fun game for a dog and it will give them plenty of exercise.
In order for this to work best, you just want to make sure they are not easily distracted and pull you in the wrong direction or run into the bike.
Be sure, at first, to go a little slower and watch your distance. Pay attention to your dog– if they show signs of getting winded and tired, slow down or turn around and go home.
This is a game that will require frequent rests and sufficient water for drinking.
Many pet stores sell special bike leashes that are designed just for this type of game.
4. Hula Hoop
This game has two levels of play. At first place the hula hoop on the ground. Run with your dog to the center.
Each time you are in the center praise your dog. Eventually they will know to run to the center of the hula hoop when you place it on the ground.
Move the hoop to different spots and have your dog run to its new location.
The next step is to hold the hula hoop up and teach your dog to run and jump through it. As your dog gets the idea of jumping through the hula hoop you can begin to raise it higher and higher.
5. Treasure Hunt
This is a game where you will hide a favorite toy or object somewhere in the house and your dog must find it.
Think of a command like “where’s your bone?” Now just substitute the word bone for the name of the object you have hidden. Every time you say that encourage your dog to find the item.
At first you will have to go to the place where you have hidden the item and show your dog. Your dog will naturally follow you and eventually get the idea to look around on its own.
6. Retrieving the Newspaper
This is a fun game and an actual job that your dog will enjoy. Dogs love to have jobs and this is a perfect one for them.
Using the command “get the paper” run with them out to where the newspaper is located each morning. Pick up the newspaper and run it in to the house. Do this for a few days.
The next step is to put it in your dog’s mouth and run with them back in the house. Extend out your hand like you do with Fetch. Eventually they will learn to get the paper and bring it in on their own.
This game seems to work the best and you will have more success at it if your dog knows and understands the game of fetch first.
7. Water Retrieve
If your dog likes the water and knows how to swim, this is a great game. It is pretty simple but worth mentioning, especially if your dog enjoys the water.
Use a ball or toy that floats. Toss it in a pool, lake, stream or even ocean. Of course, you want to make sure your dog knows basic retrieve first. This should be obvious, but they should also know how to swim.
Be careful not to throw too far out in the ocean. You don’t want your dog getting out where a current might be too strong. Or worse, most dogs know how far they can go and if your ball is too far away they won’t retrieve it and together you’ll just watch it float out to sea!
8. Follow the Leader
Let’s face it dogs love to run and this definitely fits the bill. Actually it is nothing more than a crazy, twisty, turning running game for you and your dog. But dogs love it and that’s the point here, right?
This is very similar to the same game kids play except the dog will just follow your path.
You want to run in circles, around, over and under (if possible) objects. Change your pace occasionally, running faster then slowly.
Every once in awhile turn the tables and start chasing your dog. They love the reversal. You will find your dog will quite often follow the same path you just did!
In any event, it will be great exercise for both of you.
9. Get Your Leash
Another activity that dogs love is going on a walk. For a dog, going on a walk can be the highlight of their day. It is a real sensory experience. They get to go out and perhaps encounter other pets and people and most especially, they get to enjoy a world of exciting smells.
While walking your dog isn’t exactly a game, what you do with your dog leading up to the walk can be.
You can make a game out of them going to get their leash.
Make sure you keep the leash in the same area so your dog knows where it is kept. Make sure it is within reach for your dog.
When it is time to go for a walk tell your dog go get your leash. The first few times they may need to be taken to where the leash is and shown how to retrieve it. Use a command like “Go Get Your Leash”.
You will be surprised how quickly most dogs catch on to this because going to get the leash has such a wonderful reward attached.
You can mix the game up a little, when they really understand it and begin to hide it. They will find it, just so long as it isn’t out of reach.
10. Hide and Go Seek
This is a variation on the treasure hunt game. Only in this game you are the treasure!
This is where you hide somewhere in the house or yard and then call out for your dog to come find you. You can simply have your dog sit and stay in one room while you go hide somewhere else.
After you have hidden yell the dogs name and say “come”. They will love this game.
A slight variation is to use two people. If this game is played just by you, they will come to where the sound of your voice is calling them from. Finding you will be easier. But if you teach the dog to go find you by the command of another person who is not near where you are hiding, it will be even more of a fun challenge.