Dog training doesn’t need to be all about hard work. It is proven that dogs learn faster when your training sessions are short, 10-15 minutes a couple times a day. Repetition is the key for all the things you teach your dog. Below are a couple of games that you can play with your dog to teach him or help him maintain obedience behaviors he/she already know. This is a fun way to train your dog, and your dog won’t even realize he/she is in a training session!
Hide and Seek
Playing Hide and Seek is a great game for both dog handler and dog. It can be played with 2 people and 1 dog, or 1 person and 1 dog. I actually play this with with all 3 of my dogs at the same time! It provides great physical and mental exercise. I love to play this game indoors when the weather is bad outside or I just didn’t have time to take the dogs for a walk. This game will really change up your routine and provide fun for both of you!
Method 1: (1 dog, 2 or more people)
Prepare for the game by having a few treats ready
Have one player (Jane) hold the dog (Spot) while the other player (John) hides in a place where part of their body is still visible to the dog, like a leg or an arm. When ready John says “Spot, COME”. Jane releases the dog. When Spot finds John, John gives Spot a JACKPOT (3-4 small treats one at a time). Then John holds the dog, and Jane hides. When ready, Jane says “Spot, COME”. John Releases dog. When Spot finds Jane, Jane gives Spot another JACKPOT.
Gradually make hiding places more and more difficult. Make sure to change your hiding places from game to game so that your dog does not get into a routine. Sometimes to make things really difficult, I will hid in dark rooms, behind doors, under blankets, behind tall house plants. I know I have found a really good hiding place when my dogs pass me several times looking in all the usual spots and then stop and start using their noses to sniff me out!
- Person holding dog must release dog as soon as calling person starts to say dog’s name
- Person holding dog CANNOT help dog find the other person
Method 2: (1 dog and 1 person) – For Advanced Dogs
Prepare for the game by having a few treats ready
Place dog (Spot) in a SIT STAY or DOWN STAY position. Person hides in a place where part of their body is still visible to the dog like a leg or an arm. When ready say, “Spot COME”. When Spot comes, JACKPOT him. Gradually make the hiding places harder and harder.
Real Life Value: Great exercise, Reinforces COME and STAY cues, Dog practices using all senses – sight, smell, hearing-to find you!
Tug of War
Tug of War is another great game to play with your dog. It can help build a dog’s confidence and learn the lesson of give and take! It is generally played with 1 dog and 1 person, although I play with 2 dogs at the same time.
Prepare for the game by having a tug toy and treats ready.
Start by offering your dog one end of the tug toy and saying “TAKE IT”. When dog bites down on toy, tug it gently once or twice, then say “GIVE” and hold a special treat under dog’s nose. When dog releases the tug toy, give dog treat and praise. Offer the tug toy again, gradually tugging more and more and for longer durations. Make sure to always say your cues to “TAKE IT” and “GIVE” and always reward your dog for releasing the toy when you say “GIVE”
If you have a dog that is not very confident, then let the dog “win” most of the time. If you have a dog that does not have confident issues, then set it up so you “win” most of the time.
- You start and end the game. Put the toy away when game is over
- If dog’s teeth touch your skin or clothing at any time, say negative marker “Eh Eh” or “Nope” and end game
- You should win the games most of the time, unless you are trying to build up the dog’s confidence.
- Always supervise this game if kids are playing tug of war with any do
Real Life Value: Teaches dog to “Give” up toys when asked, teaches that teeth are not allowed to touch skin or clothes, great physical exercise!
Catch it helps a dog improve their eye – mouth coordination and paying attention to you. Generally played with 1 dog and 1 person.
Prepare for the game by having treats ready.
Start by asking your dog to SIT. Gently toss a treat toward her. If he/she catches it, give a lot of PRAISE. If he/she misses several times, hold the treat just above the dog’s nose and drop into mouth. Once the dog gets the idea, then try tossing the treat again. When dog is good at catching, then put it on cue by saying “CATCH IT”, then tossing the treat. As dog gets even better start making it more difficult by tossing treat higher or slightly to the side, or try throwing treats over your shoulder. Then replace the treats with a ball or some other toy.
- Dog must not jump up to grab the treat. If dog does jump, say your negative marker “Eh Eh” or “Nope” and hide the treat until the dog sits again and pays attention to you. (Note: Be patient and wait for the dog to sit again!)
- Don’t play Tug of War with the Catch It toys. Use your “GIVE” cue and trade for a treat if necessary.
Real Life Value: Teaches dog to pay attention to you, good coordination, good manners, and to give up treats. This is a great alternative for dogs who bite when taking treats.
Try one or all of these games and have fun with your dog!