One of the best ways to relax and recharge from the hustle and bustle of daily life is to engage in games with your dog – whether outdoor or indoor.
Playing outdoor or indoor games is a great way to establish social connections and challenge both your body and your mind – all in the name of pure, clean fun.
You’ll likely find yourself in a better state soon after, which is also something that games aim to achieve!
The Five Best Games to Play Outdoors
Getting active while playing games is best done outdoors, and here are five of the most looked forward games to play with one’s friends:
1. Hide and Seek.
While some people prefer to nap in the shade during lazy summer afternoons, others find that getting active is the best way to make the most of the few hours under the sun.
Hide and seek is a simple yet very excitable game to play, and this version takes the fun several notches higher.
Inspired after one particular Easter season, one version of hide and seek that’s really fun involves hiding treats (as well as a few boiled eggs) out in the yard for others to find.
Throughout the years, this game has gone through several evolutions and was enjoyed in a number of ways – by hiding breakfast meals in the yard or slipping training treats, chews, and toys in the tall grass for the dogs to find.
The prizes are hidden while the pooch stay indoors, but don’t be surprised to find them peeking through the door just to see what the fuss is all about! Once they’re allowed to go outside, have them sit to build up the excitement and then release them.
This version of hide and seek is a clever way of serving their breakfast while satisfying their hunting instincts and improving their scenting skills at the same time.
2. Obedient Fetch.
While outdoor games with dogs are definitely rooted in fun, it is also important to note that that’s not the only thing you will accomplish.
You can also use the time to teach off-leash games with dogs as a form of obedience training and a way for them to develop their manners in a light, and enjoyable atmosphere.
What’s more, both of you will get a good amount of physical exercise as well as an opportunity for social release.
In Obedient Fetch, the game is based on four specific behaviors:
- Come: where your dog walks back to you carrying a specific object in its mouth, whereupon your grab it by the collar and give it praise
- Drop It: using a combination of auditory and visual corrections, and when successfully accomplished is then rewarded with a treat or even just a happy praise
- Lie Down: have your dog lie down on the ground with its belly exposed, feeling submissive, calm and utterly relaxed
- Release Command: giving a verbal release like ‘Ok!’ and then throwing away the stick, toy or ball. He then runs after it, happy and engaged.
These particular steps make what is usually thought of as a somewhat unthinking act (fetch) into something that’s not just joyful but also makes for very therapeutic behavior.
In unthinking fetch, the emphasis is on demand behavior, barking, dominance, and gives rewards for hyperactivity and frustration – all things that do not spell out good things in your dog’s development.
3. Obstacle Course.
A simple but well thought of obstacle course is guaranteed to deliver large doses of fun for you and your furry friend.
You can easily source obstacle course equipment at local pet supply stores; these usually include hurdles for jumping over, pause tables, tubes, and more.
Alternatively, you can also use what you already have in your hard or garage such as hula hoops (for jumping through), boxes (for jumping over), ladders (for prancing through and not for climbing up), etc.
Make sure you guide your dog throughout the entire course while it’s leashed so it’ll know the right way to navigate through it.
Deliver large amounts of praise for properly accomplishing the specific steps of each course – a great way to affirm good physical exercise and improve mental health and stimulation!
4. Batter Up.
Upgrade the usual game of fetch by sourcing out a Wiffle bat and the ball that your pet likes to use for playing fetch. Use the bat to hit the ball in the field, and have your dog run out to get it and return it to you.
The training trick is to only hit the next ball once your dog learns that it should drop the ball it collected at your feet.
5. Water Fetch.
When your dog feels like swimming and would appreciate turning a mere swimming activity into a game, play water fetch by tossing a ball in the water (preferably something that easily floats) and have your dog fetch it.
Be sure that you only play this game once your dog has mastered swimming and can get out of water safely.
The Five Best Games to Play Indoors
There are also a few great games to play indoors – perfect for rainy days or days when you don’t have the opportunity to head outside.
1. Find the Treats.
Have your dog stay in one place while you hide doggie treats in the different areas of your house. If it’s your dog’s first time playing this, put one treat in plain sight and direct your dog towards it.
It may take some time before your get the idea of “hunting” for the treats, but once it realizes this it will double up on its sniffing abilities to find the rest of the stash.
2. Tug of War.
This is a great way to engage in meaningful play while getting a lot of exercise without leaving the house. Play this game once your dog clearly understands commands for “leave it” or “drop it”.
Stop the game when it gets very excited or begins mouthing. Go ahead and let your dog win, because doing so won’t promote dominance – just the idea that you are a really fun owner that becomes all the more endearing to your dog.
3. The Which Hand? Game.
A fantastic starter game that dogs that need sniffing practice will benefit from, the Which Hand? Game requires hiding a dog treat in one hand (balled in a fist) and holding out both hands in front of your dog.
Have your dog sniff the fist and choose one to see which hand has the treat. If your dog demonstrates clawing or mouthing behavior, stop first and practice a few impulse control exercises first.
4. The Clean Up Game.
Putting dog toys away is easier and more fun with the Clean Up game. To play, have your dog grab a toy in a location where it is normally stored. Instruct the dog to “drop it” while over the box where it is kept.
Practice is necessary for your dog to understand this, but with a lot of patience and praise you, the owner, will be rewarded with a dog that knows how to clean up and pack away by itself.
5. Free Shaping Game.
This game is premised on shaping particular behaviors by taking small, baby steps. It allows you to train some new behaviors without the need for physical corrections; instead your dog uses its innate ability to learn new things.
Get a box and have your dog touch it, but do not use any signals to get it to do so. Set the box out in front of you, and bring out your clicker and treats as you wait for your dog to just touch the box.
As soon as it touches it using either paw or nose, give praise right away. Build on the behavior by moving on to the next step, which is getting your dog to put its feet inside the box.
Whether you are indoors or outdoors, playing games with your dog should be a regular part of your routine. The benefits are too good to pass up on playing games entirely or playing it too intermittently.
Once you make a habit out of it, you will also observe your dog to become its happiest, healthiest, and most amicable version of itself.