Top 5 Games to Play With Your Dog

Dog on couch with toy

Playing games with your dog is a great way to keep them active, healthy, and happy. Here are some games you can start playing together today.

Games for Dogs

1. Fetch

Fetch is a classic game for humans and dogs alike. All you need is room to run, a tennis ball or disc and an enthusiastic dog.

Fetch is a particularly great game for highly active breeds like retrievers and provides plenty of physical exercise while helping them fulfill their instinct to run. It can also keep your dog mentally engaged and challenged by trying different objects for him to run after. For example, a disc may be harder to catch but more fun to catch in midair.

Try adjusting the height, distance and direction of your throws to keep your dog interested. Don’t forget to praise your dog each time they return their toy to you so you can toss it one more time.

2. Tug of War

Another classic game most dogs love is playing tug of war. Great for both indoor or outdoor play, tug of war is fun and engaging for your dog. Plus, all that pulling and tugging is a good source of physical exercise. Avoid overexciting your dog with this game, and don’t let children play this one.

Don’t forget to keep your dog’s tooth and gum health in mind when playing tug of war, and be especially gentle when playing with puppies. Use something that won’t hurt the insides of their mouth. Try using a rope, or a dog toy made from soft rubber. If your dog has a history of back and neck injuries, try another activity until talking with your veterinarian.

3. Hide the Treat or Hide & Seek

If you’re looking to play mentally stimulating games for dogs, you can’t go wrong with hide the treat. This dog enrichment game is a fun way for them to exercise their problem-solving skills. Simply leave a trail by rubbing the treat on a few spots along the way to its hiding space, then place it somewhere that’s challenging for your dog to find.

As your dog searches, try using language like “hot” and “cold” as your dog gets closer and further away from the treat. Changing your tone from a calm “cold” to an excited “warm” or “hot” will build their listening skills, though it will take some training before they truly understand.

4. Chase

Unleash your dog’s natural hunting instincts in a positive way with a game of catch. This game uses a flirt pole, which is a long pole or stick with a rope attached to one end. You can either purchase a flirt pole or make one with a little bit of DIY. Then, tie a toy to the rope of the flirt pole and drag it slowly, occasionally stopping as your dog gets ready to pounce. Make sure to let your dog “catch” the toy periodically as a reward, so they gain confidence and don’t lose interest.

5. Agility Training

If you’re ready to take your dog’s athleticism to the next level, agility training is a great outlet for mental and physical stimulation. It will help your dog burn off excess energy and help tire them out for a restful night of sleep.

You can start agility training at home. Set up an obstacle course in a yard or park with objects from around the house. You can use boxes to jump over, cones for them to weave between and anything else that comes to mind. If you have a hula hoop, teach them to jump through it and, of course, reward them with treats as they make progress.

If you want to elevate your game, you can also join a local dog agility club. These organizations can provide a place to practice, refine your skills, and even participate in competitions on the local – and even national – level.

Avoid Overstimulation

There are lots of games to play with dogs both inside and outside. Having fun with your dog enriches both of your lives but avoid play that’s too aggressive or leads to overstimulation.

Make sure to end your play sessions while you’re both having a good time. This leaves your dog excited for their next play session rather than exhausted and discouraged.