21 Exciting Games For You And Your Dog

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Dogs love playing games with their owners and as an owner, you should always spend some quality play time with your four-legged friend. This will strengthen your relationship and your dog will feel closer to you in many ways.

In addition to this, a lot of games can be used to teach your dog something, to improve its cognitive powers and to exercise some of the natural instincts which can get become ignored without some playtime. We have compiled a list of 21 games that you can play with your canine buddy just to give you some ideas.

1. Fetch

We will start with a real classic, the most commonly played game that dog owners and their canine friends enjoy – fetch. When you see someone playing with their dog outside (but also indoors) chances are that 2 out of 3 times, they will be playing fetch.

One of the reasons why everyone loves this game is that it is one of the easiest to teach your dog. It is extremely easy to make them realize that if they bring back something you have thrown away, they will be rewarded – with a treat, a pat or words of encouragement.

Another reason why this game is so popular is that it is a great exercise for the dog, especially if you are outdoors and have the space to really throw the object far away. The dogs just love it.

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2. Find it!

Find it is another game that your dog will enjoy, but that will also exercise its primal instincts of finding its food on its own. The game has a very simple idea where you hide a treat and the dog needs to find it using its sense of smell.

You can play this game both inside and outside, finding different places to hide the treat. It is easier to play this game if the dog has learned the “find it” command, but you can teach it even if it does not.

You start off slowly, placing the treat near to the food bowl and then moving it further and further away. Once the dog finds the treat, it is essential that you make a huge fuss about it and shower your canine friend with additional treats.

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3. A Good Old-Fashioned Run

Some of you might argue that going for a run with your dog is not exactly a game, but if you apply yourself, you can make it more than just a simple exercise. Not that there is anything wrong with providing your pup with exercise, of course.

One thing you will want to have for your doggy run is a comfortable lead (remember, not a leash). It will ensure that your dog runs with you and you are not chasing after it.

Some of the ways in which you can “spice up” your run is visiting different places around town, giving your dog chance to run on grass, sand and, why not, in shallow waters. Encourage your dog to investigate and have fun on its own while running. Also, make sure to adapt to what they are doing and how they are running, and not have it the other way round.

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4. Water-Based Games

If you are lucky enough to live on the coast or own a pool, there are a whole bunch of games that you can play with your dog that will involve getting in the water (either just the dog, or involving you getting aquatic as well). Dogs are naturally good swimmers and it shouldn’t take them long to get used to water, anyway.

One of the classic dog games, fetch becomes even more fun in water. One thing you will want to ensure, however, is that their favorite fetch toy actually floats. While they are good swimmers, dogs are usually not too keen on going diving.

You can also swim out yourself and then call your dog to swim towards you. Once they reach you, make sure you let them know they did a great job. Finally, one thing – if your dog is not crazy about water, do not push it.

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5. Tricks

You might think that teaching your dog tricks is all about obedience training and making sure they learn commands, but it, in fact, can be a fun time for both of you. In addition to this, these exercises will train your dog’s cognitive abilities, which is always a good idea.

When starting out, it is important not to overdo it as it can be challenging for the dog, especially if they haven’t had any obedience training before. It is a lot to take in for a canine, and you need to make sure you do not ruin it for the dog.

If you wish, you can combine learning tricks with games that your dog is already familiar with, as this will make it more fun for the dog and also a more versatile exercise.

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6. Hide And Seek

If you thought that hide and seek is something you can only play with people, you were wrong. Your dog can be a great hide and seek player, although it may take some time for it to learn the rules, so to say.

One way to play is with another person. You keep the dog close to you while the other person goes and hides. They need to have a lot of treats with them, with which they will then reward the dog once you release it and it finds them.

You can play hide and seek with your dog alone too, telling it to stay and then hiding somewhere where it cannot see you. You then shout out to them to find you and when they do, you shower them with treats, praise or cuddles. Or with all of it combined.

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7. Flirt Pole Play

One of the most exciting games, at least if you ask the dogs, is definitely the flirt pole play. They just go berserk over it. It probably has to do with the fact that it gets their natural hunting instincts all active, making them super excited.

It is also one of the easiest games to “set up”. All you need is a long stick with a rope attached to it, on the end of which will be one of their favorite toys. Of course, you can buy flirt poles in pet stores, but there is really no need to. Just make sure the rope is not flexible.

From there on, the game is quite simple. You just tease the dog with the toy attached to the pole and they try and catch it.

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8. Water Hose Olympics

While we are on the subject of chasing games, we just cannot fail to mention one that most dogs just adore – water hose play. Things you will need for this game is a backyard, a hose that has the jet setting and a dog who loves water. If they are not too crazy about water, do not insist on this game.

The game is as simple as they get. You shoot the water from the hose all over the place and the dog plays with it – either trying to catch it, bite down on the jet or simply get sprayed with it.

You should be careful not to aim for the dog’s face as the water might hit them in the eye. This game is also a great way to wash your dog if they hate “traditional” bath time.

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9. Tug Of War

This is one of the games that you really need to be careful about, but which can provide you and your dog with hours of fun. We are talking about tug of war which should, for clear reasons, never be played with aggressive dogs or dogs that still haven’t learned how to follow commands.

It comes down to playing tug of war with your dog over a toy or another object. It is important to ensure that the game starts only on your command and that is stops on command also. If the dog is not “playing along”, take breaks.

The best version of this game is when you get another dog to play with yours, but you need to make sure that the other dog is also not aggressive and listens to you (or its owner).

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10. Bubble Chasing

Everyone loves soap bubbles. They are beautiful, they are fun and their get the inner child in all of us excited and amazed. Dogs also love bubbles and they are able to spend hours doing all kinds of stuff with them.

For instance, some dogs will be perfectly content to just sit there and stare at the bubbles for hours on end. They will seem like in a trance of some kind, but you just know they are having fun. Others like to make things more active, chasing after the bubbles, trying to grab them in their mouth and whatnot.

One thing that you will always want to take care of is that the bubbles are safe, meaning that they are not made using any substances that can be toxic to dogs in any way.

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11. Frisbee

Playing Frisbee with your dog is a variation on the fetch game. Some dogs prefer to catch balls thrown in the air, but since the Frisbee stays flying longer, this gives them more of a chance to catch it, thus making the game suitable for more than one dog.

The best way to start is by sliding the Frisbee on the floor while teaching the dog it should catch it and return it to you. Then, start by throwing it gently a few feet from the ground. Once your dog gets a hang of it, you can turn it up and fling the Frisbee as far as you can.

Keep in mind that this is a game you should only play in dog parks and other areas that are fenced and tailored to dogs and dog owners.

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12. Go Wild And Freeze

This is a relatively new game, developed by a famous dog trainer September Morn. The game involves you dancing around, being really excited and getting your dog involved. Then, all of a sudden, you stop (freeze) and tell your dog to stop as well.

Once they stop, you start dancing again, getting them excited again and, you guessed it, stopping again. Of course, you will want to mix things up by making the dance longer or shorter and waiting longer or shorter before another round begins.

This is a great way to teach your dog self-control and also when the playtime is over. If the dog tries to get you to play once you’ve stopped, ignore it or otherwise they might think that being incessant works.

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13. Outdoors Obstacle Course

There are a few games that are as good for your dog as an obstacle course. For one, it exercises them physically, showing them everything that they are capable of. In addition to this, it is a great cognitive exercise as the dog needs to learn how to overcome the obstacles.

If you have a backyard, you will be able to create a real obstacle course that your dog will then learn to navigate. Of course, this does not mean that you should necessarily build a pro obstacle course. Some hurdles, slalom and perhaps a tunnel will do just fine.

It is important to start out slowly, leading the dog through every part of the course individually and rewarding it with treats. After a while, they will be able to do the entire course on their own.

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14. Indoors Obstacle Course

Not having a backyard does not mean that you cannot “build” an obstacle course for your canine friend. You can come up with an indoors version which will be just as fun and beneficial for your dog as an outdoors one.

You can use rolled up blankets for hurdles, a hula hoop through which the dog will jump and a chair to run underneath or jump up on. You can knock out the bottoms of some boxes and create a tunnel to include in your obstacle course.

Of course, you will want to be careful to secure all the breakables around the obstacle course. The principle is the same as with an outdoors course – taking things one step at a time and plenty of treats.

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15. Over, Under And Through

The over, under and through game is a toned down version of an obstacle course and something that you can play with your dog in even the smallest of apartments.

All you will need is a chair or a stool of some kind (big enough, of course). You simply place the chair or the stool somewhere in your home (away from breakables) and then teach the dog to either get up on it, stay under it or go through the legs.

You can mix things up by asking your dog to put one paw on it, then two, then to sit on it for a certain amount of time. You can even let the dog itself decide what to do with it. Be creative!

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16. Name Game

This game is aimed at boosting your dog’s word recognition skills, while also being very fun for them. To start off, you will need two of their toys which you will then clearly name in front of the dog. Make sure the names are short and as different from one another as possible.

Then, as you throw one of the toys, you tell its name and command the dog to fetch it. You do the same with the other toy. You alternate and repeat this until you believe the dog has learned the name.

Next, you either place both toys on the floor or throw them at the same time, saying the name of only one toy. Your dog should then bring back only the toy you named.

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17. Round Robin

Round Robin is a perfect game for a large family with a dog. Children will love this game and you can bet that your canine buddy will too.

To play the game, the family (as many people as you can get) should sit in a circle in a room, with the dog in the center. Everyone should have a supply of treats. Then, taking turns, people call out to the dog. When it approaches the person that called out to it, it is treat time!

Once the dog gets a hang of the game, you can take the game outdoors with the family members (and friends, why not) standing or sitting even further away from each other. This will inspire the dog to run and get to the treats as quickly as possible, providing exercise as well as excitement.

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18. Stairway Dash

If you live in a house with a stairway, you can use it to provide your canine friend with one of the most energy-expending games there are. No really, stairway dash will really put their stamina to test, as well as get them all really excited.

You can, for instance, sit at the bottom of the stairs, your dog in a sit-stay next to you. You then throw the ball to the top, but not let them go straight for it. You build up the intensity by making them wait for the go. Once you finally say it, they will run like the wind up the stairs and then down, bring the toy back with them.

You must never play this game with dogs that are under 1 years old as their joints are not yet fully formed and running up and down stairs might cause permanent injury.

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19. Clean Up “Game”

We are using the quotes for this one because it is a bit sneaky. In essence, you will have your dog help you clean up. The first thing you will need to do, quite naturally, is to teach them the “put it away” command. Teaching them the command can be a game in itself.

Once you are certain they know the command, you can scatter their toys all over the room and tell them to put them away. You can let them pick up toys in whatever order they prefer or you can point to one toy after the other, telling them to “put it away”.

When your dog shows it learned the basics, you can spice things up by taking the toys to other rooms or even hiding them.

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20. Doggie Soccer

Soccer may not be the most popular sport in the States, but it makes for a great game to play with your dog. It will provide great exercise for your dog and it will help you bond with each other too.

All you need for this is a ball, preferably a soft one so that the dog can pick it up with its mouth. This is one of those games that needs very little explaining. You simply kick the ball and the dog will chase it. Once it catches up with the ball, you can leave it to play with the ball or command it to bring the ball over.

Then, you kick it away, perhaps with a command not to pick it up this time. You can also encourage the dog to kick it around itself, although this might not work with all dogs.

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21. Muffin Tin Game

Muffin tin game is one of the most popular new games that has really become a favorite for many a dog owner. For this one, you will need a muffin tin, some treats and a few tennis balls.

You fill every cup with treats and place tennis balls over some of them. The dog will, naturally, go for the exposed treats first but will soon figure out that something might be hiding under tennis balls as well. It will then knock the balls from the tin and be ridiculously excited that it found hidden treats.

Of course, there are dogs who will, upon learning about hidden treats, smack the tin right away, sending everything flying all over the place. You can let your dog do this or insist that it reaches the treats in a less messy fashion. It’s up to you.

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