Early humans bred dogs to work alongside them: guarding, hunting, herding, ratting, and protecting. Although a few breeds were customized as pets, most of our dogs today still retain those active working genes. They want to stay active. Even our couch potato pets have active minds, busy noses, and bodies that crave movement and fun games.
To be at their healthiest, our pups need to engage all of their senses. Inactivity leads to boredom, which can lead to undesirable consequences ranging from obesity and health problems to destructive behavior such as nuisance barking, chewing, and aggression. Keep your dog busy, happy, and healthy with some of these fun interactive dog games.
1. Practice that nose work.
The shell game is a great way to get your dog started with scent work. Teach your dog to find popcorn that you have hidden under containers. Add more containers to the mix, and switch it around to keep their nose game on point. Teaching your dog to recognize specific scents takes this game a step further. Use dog-friendly scents, such as cloves, anise, or birch to condition your dog to recognize and find specific items. Place the scent in diverse areas, such as on the ground, on furnishings, and around door frames and at different heights. Use clickers and rewards for encouragement when your dog locates a scent.
2. Give your dog a job.
Dogs are happiest when they have something to do. Even if your dog is not a working breed, it can get involved in simple day-to-day tasks, such as picking up its toys or fetching sticks to add to the woodpile. If you know your dog’s breed or dominant breed, look for jobs that satisfy breed tendencies. For example, collies might enjoy “herding” laundry into the basket, Jack Russels will love performing tasks that require a bit of agility, and your lab will have a grand time playing “fetch” with all those lost items scattered around the house.
3. Build up those skills!
If tricks are not already part of your dog training regimen, now is a great time to start incorporating them. Every dog, from beginner to advanced, can learn new tricks, and you can always add more tricks and more complex tricks to your pup’s repertoire.
Some great options include:
- Roll over
- Lie down
- Play dead
- Stand on your back legs
- Say your prayers
- Give us a hug
You can incorporate more complex tricks as your dog becomes more skilled. Teach your pooch to balance on objects, crawl under things, jump over, and wind around objects. You can create obstacle courses as simple or complex as your imagination and your pup’s skills allow. Clickers are excellent training tools. Click and treat to reinforce new lessons and keep the game going.
Downtime is just as important as interactive time, so consider offering puzzle games, stuffed kongs, snuffle mats, frozen dog treats, and chew toys for your pup’s solo recreational use when training time has ended.
The best and most fun dog games engage your dog on both mental and physical levels and involve multiple senses: smell, sight, touch, and more. Your dog needs to move, feel, and do things to stay mentally and physically healthy. Here at Dog Thrive Dog Daycare, we understand what it takes to make a happy dog. Our doggy with our indoor and outdoor areas offers lots of ways to get dogs moving, jumping, playing, and working, and our hands-on, dog-loving staff is right out there with our doggy friends, moving, jumping, playing, and working with them. Call Dog Thrive today to learn more about visiting our daycare and getting your dog involved in fun new activities to keep them busy, active, and out of trouble all day long.