Games that Puppies Love to Play
Not only are games fun and a great way to strengthen the bond with your puppy, but they also serve as a way to teach your puppy special skills that can set him up for success later on in life. Read on to learn how to play with a puppy and what games to teach him so that he can pick up some basic and essential commands.
Fetch is a favourite game to play for most puppies that can teach them to come when called, and to get a great amount of exercise.
- Start off by getting your puppy to come and sit, then throw one of his favourite toys.
- Enthusiastically encourage him to go get it.
- When he’s far away from you with his toy, dance, shout, and call his name, so that he’ll really want to get back to you.
- When he brings back the toy, tell him to drop it, and praise him when he does.
Find the toy
Find the toy games can teach your puppy to rely on his sense of smell and to use his brain. They can also prepare him for tracking. Before starting this game, make sure to come up with a unique name for each of his toys.
- To start, pick up his favourite toy and the say the name, like “blue ball,” and give him the toy if he looks at you when you say the name.
- Next, choose a command, such as “find” and use it only for this game and for when you want him to find things later on.
- Show your puppy the toy, and hide it partially under a towel or blanket.
- Then say, “find your blue ball,” and if he finds it praise him.
- If he doesn’t find his toy, repeat the command.
- Over time, hide the toy more and more until he is able to recover it completely from where he can’t see it.
- Make sure to praise him every time.
Tug-of-war is another favourite puppy game and can be a great tool to help you train your puppy to drop a toy on command.
- To start, hold your puppy’s toy and offer it to him until he grabs on.
- Tug back and forth with him. You can exaggerate your movements so it seems you are having a hard time pulling.
- Let your puppy have the toy once in a while and praise him when he “wins” the toy.
- Make sure he is playing appropriately and not biting anything other than the toy. If he is doing so, end the game. Read our article on how to train your puppy to stop biting to learn more about puppy biting.
- Reward your puppy if he drops the toy when you say “drop it” during the game. Eventually, he’ll learn the drop the toy on command without expecting a treat.
Agility games refer to games that get your puppy moving and thinking. They are great at burning off calories and excess energy and they help increase your puppy’s coordination and confidence. Puppies love the challenge of jumping, negotiating obstacles and getting praise when they do well.
A great idea is to create an obstacle course in your own home:
- Use a space such as your living room and create obstacles with blankets and chairs.
- Use treats or kibble to lure your puppy and follow alongside as he’s going through the course.
- Reward him when he conquers the obstacles you set in front of him and praise him as he does well.
- If you are feeling creative, you can create an outdoor obstacle course in your yard or in a nearby park with cones, hula-hoops and other objects.
Knowing how to play with a puppy is the first step to creating a strong and lasting bond. If you’d like to keep strengthening this bond, and teach your puppy some basic commands, read our article on how to train your puppy.