We all play games with our puppies, right? Some of us play fetch, others play tug, we chase each other, or anything else. Dogs love playing with us.
But games are not just for fun. They are training tools we can use to improve the behavior and manners of our puppy.
Finding fun and constructive ways to play with your dog is one of the best parts of being a dog owner. Do not underestimate the fun your dog has. Every puppy needs playtime.
The best games for dogs are those that provide physical exercise, but also some mental stimulation. And you can use them for training.
Today, we will talk about three types of games you can play, and what do they help with in training.
Type of games you play and what they teach your dog
Fetch – Teaches Recall
A lot of people look at fetch as a great game for exercising your puppy. Like you throw the ball and your dog runs toward it.
But fetch is more about practicing and teaching recall than physical exercise. And of course, focus on the ball and avoid distractions while you walk with your puppy.
Fetch is a great game you can play for energetic dogs. It provides plenty of physical exercise and rewards your dog’s natural instinct to run and chase something.
Tug – focus on you
Tug of war is another game you can play with your puppy. But there is a right way and wrong way to play tug.
The right is using tug to get your dog’s focus instantly on you. It helps with avoiding distractions in the environment. Once you learn how to properly play tug with your puppy, you can use it to avoid any distraction. A dog is approaching you? Just bring out the tug and play with your puppy.
I recommend learning to play tug indoors in the beginning. It takes a while for your puppy to learn to focus only on the game and nothing else around.
The trick with tug is to let your puppy win occasionally. If your puppy doesn’t win, he will get bored. Win motivates him. The right way to play is to let your puppy win, but already have a “drop it” command in your arsenal. When your puppy drops the tug, pick it up, and initiate play again. It reinforces your puppy to play and win again and again. He knows that dropping the toy will start a new game.
Running games – Teaches Recall and Focus
Running games are great when you have an energetic dog. If you have the energy as well, you can play these games instead of fetch with your hyperactive dog.
Running games are the next level. They help improve the bond between you and your puppy and teach so many things. The best part is they make you “the prey” or what dogs naturally want to chase. And because they are chasing you, they are programmed to come to you.
Do you see how well it works? Some of the best running games are chase and hide and seek. Both work amazingly for putting your dog’s focus on you and improving his follower’s state of mind.
Tips for playing games
When you play any game with your puppy, you keep him active and mentally stimulated. But most importantly, your dog is happy. And a dog that is happy loves to be trained. Making training fun is the most surefire way to proper dog manners and good behavior.
But even with games, there is a right way and a wrong way to play them. The biggest mistake is you try to play it for too long.
Anything that is too aggressive or lasts too long can lead to overstimulation. And that can demotivate your puppy to work. Always end the games on a win for your puppy. Leave him excited and wanting for more until the next play session.
You do not want an exhausted and discouraged puppy!