Here’s a description of some of my favourite games that you or your children can play with the family dog or puppy. These games are easy to play and can be done in the house, especially if the weather outside isn’t great. And your dog will love them!
Kibble Cover: All you need is a handful of kibble or treats and a hungry dog. Kneel close to the floor and draw your dog’s attention to one piece of kibble as you place it on the floor.
If he dives for it, quickly cover it with your hand. When he stops trying to get it, uncover it so he can see it once again. Each time he dives for it, quickly cover it. The idea is to help him understand that waiting patiently is what you are looking for. So, if he freezes for just a second or two, move your hand away from the piece of kibble and tell him to “Get it!” – encouraging him to go ahead and grab it.
As he gets better, gradually increase the number of seconds he needs to wait before giving him the go-ahead to get his piece of kibble. This is a great impulse-control game.
Kibble Flick: A twist on the Kibble Cover above. When your dog chooses to control his impulse to grab at the piece of kibble you’ve placed on the floor, flick it across the floor with your finger, and let your dog run after it and eat it. As soon as your dog understands the game, you can flick each piece farther away. Your dog will get a good mental workout, plus some fun exercise.
Hide and Seek: Dogs love this game. Have a handful of treats or your dog’s favourite toy on you. If he has been taught to wait in one place, then cue him to do so while you leave the room to hide; otherwise, just have a second family member hold onto him.
Once you’ve hidden, start calling your dog to you, remaining quiet as he gets close to your hidden location. If he’s searching in the wrong area of the house, call to him again.
Once he finds you, celebrate with toy play, delivery of treats, or just a whole lot of praise.
For the novice dog just learning this game, hide in easy-to-find places, but as he gets better at the game, challenge him further by making yourself harder to find.
Tag Team Recall: Requires two or more people. Spread yourself out into different areas of the house. One person holds the dog by placing hands around his chest, facing him in the direction of the other family members, whom he may or may not be able to see. Let go of the dog when somebody calls him. When the dog gets to the person calling him, there should be a huge reward – toy play, treats, hand play or just lots of excitement. Once that is done, that person becomes the holder and someone else gets to call the dog. The dog enjoys some exercise and interaction.
The family dog craves your attention, so, give him some and have fun doing it. – Tribune News Service/The Modesto Bee/Lisa Moore