Puppies are terrific fun. They’re full of energy, happy, bouncy and curious about everything. The flip side is that a bored puppy can be destructive and noisy.

Playing with your puppy will run off some of that energy, help you communicate better, and bond, so it’s great for both of you.

Fetch is of course the classic game, providing an opportunity to combine training with learning basic commands, with the dog’s natural instincts to hunt, as well as lots of fun and exercise. However, there are other games too, some of which may not immediately spring to mind.

Whatever you choose to do with your pet, do consider that animals are just like children: if they lose all the time, they become sad and depressed. So when you play, do let your dog win! To get the most fun out of these hours, look on playtime as the daily healthy treat where your pet gets all your attention and has all of the fun.

No-training soap bubble chase

Dogs who are chasers by nature adore snapping at or running after soap bubbles. It requires no training and is simply for bonding with your pet. As you are sitting down together, it’s also good as a cooling down game where you can catch a little rest after playing Fetch or for an older pet that can’t walk too far in the heat yet loves to play silly games.

Tip: Use a pet-safe solution from a pet shop rather than detergent that may irritate your pet’s eyes and mouth.


Look on playtime as the daily healthy treat where your pet gets all your attention and has all of the fun. Photo: Ellen Whyte

Teaser pole

This game involves buying some equipment, namely a teaser pole with a rope that has a toy attached to it. You sit on the sofa, “casting” the lure as if you’re fishing and your pet rushes about, jumping at it, biting and tugging.

This game is excellent for small dogs who are indoors, and who need encouragement for a little daily exercise. It’s also a great introductory game for pets who haven’t learned to play Fetch yet. If you want to go for Fetch, this activity will help your pet get practice in catching and holding, and you can try out the “Drop” command, too.

Consider buying this toy rather than making it because it has to be pet-friendly. This means a lure that won’t fall apart and be ingested by your pet, and with a rope that’s sturdy and won’t fray.

Agility course

You see champion dogs weaving in and out of complex cone lanes and leaping over tall walls, so why not create your own agility course at home?

This is a sophisticated game that has you two working together very closely so it’s great for helping you communicate. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to create a nice run.

Always make sure that you use soft items so that your pet can’t bash himself if he runs into it, and be careful to make all obstacles the appropriate height. If you’re indoors, make space so that stuff doesn’t get knocked over.

For a very simple course, use a rolled up blanket to make a hurdle, a box open at both ends as a crawl-through, and a hula hoop as a jumping ring.

For the first round, walk your pet through it by using treats. Simply stand on one side of the blanket hurdle and reward your pet when he jumps over it. Then lure him through the open box with a second treat, and hold a third treat on the far side of the hula hoop.

When your pet does all the separate actions correctly three times in a row, stand at one end of the course and then call it to you. Reward with a hug and a treat! Then move the course around or add an extra jump or crawl. Slowly replace most of the treats with praise.

Weaving game

The Weave is an advanced game requiring great communication and hard work on both sides. All you need are treats, time and patience.

Start by wearing trousers! Skirts won’t work for this. Stand with your legs apart and have your pet stand behind you. Hold a treat in your hand, reach through your legs and call to your pet. When he walks through your legs, say, “Weave!” and then offer the treat.

Do this three or four times a day, for three days or so. You need not always reward with a treat. Fulsome praise also works! When your pet gets it, move on to the next step.

Have your pet sit on your left side, step forward with your right leg and using a treat, lure your pet through while saying, “Weave!” Step forward with the other leg and repeat.

As you do this, use more and more hand movements and fewer treats. Praise a lot! Then start using fewer hand movements.

When you’re both at a good standard, use this trick as a fun game – and add it to your agility course.