When your dog wants to play and you’re bored with the same old game of fetch, try taking a page out of Andre Yeu’s handbook. The Karen Pryor-trained dog handler, and head trainer for Toronto’s reputable training outfit When Hounds Fly gave us some ideas and inspiration for some unique games you can play with your pup rain or shine.
Hide and Seek
Have a helper hold onto your dog while you show the dog some irresistible treats and toys he’s sure to go nuts for. Then run away and hide in a wooded area or behind a shed where he can’t see you. As your helper holds your dog back begin calling him. Now just as he’s tugging and raring to go, the helper can let go as he flies through the yard looking behind every bush, tree and garden gnome for that delectable treat you’re holding.
Who it's good for: Owners and dogs with high energy and a large outdoor space to play in.
Who it’s not good for: Owners with aggressive dogs, or dogs with a short attention span that will likely just wander off. Owners with limited outdoor space.
Training Level Required: Little to no training. Teaches the dog to come when called. Good for developing your dog’s focus and attention-building skills.
Find it Fido
No place to play hide and seek? Try asking your dog to sit still or have your helper hold onto them. Then after showing them a delicious treat such as a peanut butter filled kong or a large milk bone, go and hide it somewhere in the house. Once you’re done, go back to your pup and release him, letting him find it using a training game that police agencies have been employing for decades. At first stay closer to your starting point, then gradually build on the distance and complexity of the hiding spot over time. Be sure to give them lots of reinforcement and praise when they do eventually find the treat.
Who it’s good for: Owners with excitable puppies or wannabe working dogs.
Who it’s not good for: Owners with dogs that will tear up furniture trying to find it.
Training Level Required: Little to no training. Teaches the dog to use and rely upon its ‘nose’.
Tug of War
Rainy day? Indoors or out this is a great way to kill some time and burn some energy. There’s a belief that tug of war isn’t a good game to play with your dog, but Andre Yeu says it will absolutely not cause aggression. In fact, it’s one of his favourite games to play with his two beagles Duke and Petey. Trouble getting your pup to drop the toy after you’re done? Try placing a treat on the top of his nose and saying “drop it”. In no time he’ll drop any toy or item on command. It’s like two games in one.
Who it's good for: Owners with energetic dogs and small spaces to play in.
Who it’s not good for: Owners with already aggressive dogs.
Training Level Required: Little to no training. Teaches an excited dog to drop a toy on command. Helps strengthen their jaw, exercises a variety of other muscles, all while burning up a ton of calories!
Here’s a fun one for a rainy day or small outdoor space to play in. Take a stick or a ruler and attach a string to it. Then tie on one of your dog’s favorite stuffed toys. Now whip it around in every direction and watch the fun that ensues as your pup tries to grab the toy on this ridiculously entertaining pole.
Who it’s good for: Owner with small energetic dogs or a small yard to play in.
Who it’s not good for: Owners with large breed dogs who will just rip the toy apart.
Training Level Required: Little to no training. Extremely stimulating for the dog.