Using Fun Dog Games to Train your Puppy

There is no shadow of doubt that fun dog games can provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment for both canine companions and owners alike. But recreation and entertainment are not their only benefits...

A vast array of benefits derives from playing numerous games with your four-legged friend.

For instance, a simple game can provide your dog with the perfect outlet for pent-up energy while also allowing a great opportunity for training, bonding and just having fun.

Many games can also reinforce valuable skills that your pet has already learned, including commands such as sit, stay and come. They will also make teaching your pet new skills much easier and less time consuming.

Why do Dogs Need to Play?

You may wonder why dogs need to play when in the wild they typically do not have any toys. The answer to this is the fact that domestication has changed the way dogs live. Toys and fun dog games are needed for the purpose of replacing the normal activities dogs would have engaged in the wild. For the most part, play simply recreates the excitement and adrenaline-rush of a hunt.

When you watch a dog play, you will often see some segments of the prey drive behavior which includes searching, stalking, chasing, biting and killing. Puppies play to practice their hunting skills and adult dogs play to refine those skills.

Play also helps domestic dogs stay fit by burning off calories while keeping muscles, bones and organs in top shape. Last but not least, play provides dog with a good amount of mental stimulation which keeps Rover entertained and out of trouble.

Dog Playing Frisbee

How do Dogs Like to Play?

While you will never find Rover playing with a Wii or a game of Monopoly, he will likely have his personal preferences when it comes to toys and games.

Some dogs will wag their tails in excitement at the sight of a ball, while others could care less and will just give you a lazy look. In part, enthusiastic responses to certain games are based on the dog's breed and individual preferences.

For example, herding breeds may find a game of Treibball very enticing since they are allowed to "herd" big balls into a confined space. Retrievers, on the other hand, may be obsessed with a game of fetch. Hounds may enjoy using their noses to follow a trail of treats, whereas, terriers may love to dig up hidden treasures. Visit dog breeds for additional information on breed groups.

Fun Dog Games for Pampered Pooches

There are plenty of games you can play with your canine companion, and many of them incorporate some commands. The following collection of fun dog games offers a great opportunity to train while allowing your dog to do what he loves best -- play!

Hide and Seek

This fun game incorporates some basic manners. Best of all, dogs seem to have a blast because they must use their senses to find you. Last but not least, since finding you is rewarding, this game helps increase the dog and owner bond. This game is best played outdoors in a fenced yard.

  1. Ask your dog to "stay".
  2. Hide in a nearby place to make it easy at first.
  3. Say "OK" or the normal word you use to release your dog from a stay.
  4. When your dog finds you, reward him with a treat or lots of pats and praise. Make the game increasingly challenging.

Fun Dog Games Involving Sports

If your dog is quite active, you may also want to consider enrolling him in some sport.

Dog agility training may be a great way to build confidence and a dog and owner bond. You can even invest in some dog agility equipment and play agility games with your dog in the comfort of your yard.

Other great sports that are also fun dog games are the sport of Treibball, Disc Dog and Flyball.


If your dog knows how to fetch and loves balls, he may appreciate a change every now and then. A Frisbee moves in a different way than a ball, causing many dogs to be attracted to its unpredictable movement. Just a few minutes of this game may tire even the most energetic dog. This game should be played strictly outdoors.

If your dog absolutely loves to play with a Frisbee, consider competing with him in the sport of disc dog.

Because a game of Frisbee entails a lot of jumping, keep in mind that this can put pressure on your dog's knees and spine. It's best to avoid playing this game with still growing puppies. Make sure to also use a Frisbee that will not break and risk cutting your dog's mouth.

Tug of War

Among the many fun dog games, the game of Tug of War has been a subject of controversy for some time. Claims of people stating it promotes aggression abound. This is far from the truth when the right rules are applied. This game is also great for teaching self-control.

You can play this game both indoors and out. Make sure your tug toy is made of a material that will not cause damage to your dog's teeth and gums and that it is long enough to not cause accidental injury to your hands.

  1. Invest in a good tug toy.
  2. Train your dog to grasp the tug on command after sitting. The command "get it" or "take it" is often used.
  3. Initiate a game of tug.
  4. Ask your dog to drop the toy on cue. The command "leave it" or "give" is often used.

Shell Game

This game encourages your dog to use his sense of smell and apply some self control. To play this game, all you need are some plastic cups and tasty treats. This game is perfect for playing indoors, and it is also a great way to impress your friends! Just make sure Rovers is not tempted to eat the plastic cups too!

  1. Ask your dog to stay in a room or to sit with his back to you. Make sure you remind him not to peek!
  2. Hide the treat under one of the cups.
  3. Call your dog.
  4. Mix the cups and tell your dog to "find the treat".
  5. When he finds the treat, praise him and let him have it.


A game of fetch can be quite addicting, and some dogs quickly become fetching machines. This game is great to play in a yard or at a fenced park. This version of fetch incorporates some training which is meant to encourage self control. Training your dog to fetch is fun and quite rewarding.

  1. Ask your dog to "sit".
  2. Once your dog is sitting, toss the ball.
  3. Tell your dog to "get it".
  4. When your dog returns with the ball in his mouth ask him to "drop".
  5. Repeat the sequence by tossing the ball again only once your dog is sitting.

Chase Me

This is one of the easiest to play fun dog games. It may also turn helpful if you have a dog that tends to take off and ignores your recall command.

Basically, instead of trying to chase your dog when he runs off, you change the rules of the game and entice your dog to chase you. Because you reward your dog for catching up, your dog learns that sticking by your side is rewarding after all. This game should be played outdoors in a fenced area.

  1. With your dog playing in the yard, try grabbing his attention. Act silly, clap your hands and make excited, high-pitched voices as you entice your dog to chase you. You can give a command such as "play tag". Your dog should stop doing what he is doing and chase you.
  2. Start running away.
  3. When he catches up, stop, ask for a sit, and give your dog a reward.
  4. Once he is done, wait for your dog to get distracted again and start the game all over. Your goal is to become more interesting than whatever is occupying his attention!

Treasure Search

If you own a dog that loves to dig, you can put his natural instincts to work by allowing him a place where he is allowed to engage in his favorite activity on cue. The best way to find a compromise with a digging dog is to give him a place to dig and call his own. Once you have selected an outdoor place he is allowed to dig, it is your job to make it enticing.

  1. Ask your dog to sit and stay at a distance.
  2. Hide one of his favorite toys in the sand.
  3. Call him to you and ask him to "find".
  4. Once he finds the toy reward him with a treat or a game with his favorite toy.

Final Thoughts...

Whichever game you choose, always make sure to play fun dog games in a safe area. Keep an eye on your dog for signs of tiring, and make sure your dog has access to a bowl with fresh water. Fun dog games are ultimately the best way to play, train and bond with your canine companion.

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

If you are a new dog owner and want to learn more about dog behavior and obedience training, I highly recommend you read and follow this Secrets to Dog Training guide. It's written by a professional dog trainer and is full of techniques you can use to teach your dog new tricks.


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