Believe me, when I say, keeping your dog entertained can be a challenge, and simply trying to come up with new ways to keep your dog entertained can be more exhausting than actually getting up and doing it. As a dog owner myself, I have put together a list of 10 easy and cool ways to keep you and your dog entertained.
What are the Benefits of Keeping Your Dog Busy?
Bored dogs are the ones that cause the most trouble. We happen to be their main source of entertainment, so if we don’t give them the stuff to do, they will come up with activities of their own. This often leads to ending up with chewed-up shoes and table legs or whatever your dog can sink its teeth into.
The benefit of playing with your dog for a little while a day is that it will decrease the likelihood of them developing destructive habits such as excessive barking or chewing. Doing any activity with your dog also helps boost your happiness meter, so it’s a win-win situation.
10 cool dog games to keep You & your Dog occupied while having Fun
1. Find the Treats
Nose work games are probably one of the easiest ways you can tire out your dog. If you teach your dog some basic nose work games for example, ‘find the treats’ you are mentally tiring them out while also helping them hone in on some of their natural skills. You do not need a big bag of store-bought dog treats either; before I feed my dog full, I use diced beef to play with him a little, bones are my favorite treat to use for this game.
The game is pretty simple, to play all you have to do is grab some treats and have your dog watch in a steady position as you place them around the room. After you’re done, you need to give your dog the cue to “find the treats” and encourage him/her to pick them up. If you praise them every time, they find one, it will boost your dog’s morale, and increase enthusiasm.
Once your dog understands what “find the treats” means you can start to make the game a bit more challenging. You can tell them to stay in another room while you hide the treats, or you can start hiding them in spots they have to sniff out for example, under a rug.
2. The Shell Game
The shell game is a simple and fun problem-solving game for your dog. It’s simple to play the shell game, just let your dog watch as you place a treat under one of the three cups. Now you shuffle the cups around and encourage your dog to ‘find the treat.’ The shell game will give your dog plenty of mental stimulation, it will also help them work on problem-solving skills.
3. Tug of War with Your Dog
Tug is probably my dog’s favorite game. Why, you ask? Because it’s fun, it’s engaging, for me it’s great physical exercise, and it’s a good way for dogs to practice their manners aka impulse control. If you spent a lot of time training your dog a tug toy is one of the most motivating rewards around.
While playing tug just remember to follow a basic rule – the game needs to stop if your dog’s teeth touch your skin. Few dogs may struggle with this since tug gets some dogs pretty riled up. If you stop when their mouth touches your hand, they will understand that ‘the fun game stops when I mouth my person.’
4. Let Your Dog Chase Bubbles
One of the funniest games to play with your dog is teaching them to chase bubbles. Personally, my dog, Jiraiya likes to chase around balloons, but bubbles are also a good alternative. As soon as he spots a balloon in my hand he starts to get excited.
If your doggo doesn’t know how to chase bubbles, start by blowing a couple at a time. Show them how it is done, show them that you have to get the bubbles before they touch the ground, and encourage them to chase.
It’s better if you use bubbles made for kids (there are also flavored bubbles specifically for dogs). They are non-toxic, however, there is a chance of an upset stomach if they ingest too much. Make sure to wipe off your dog’s face afterward because the bubbles can irritate your dog’s eyes.
5. A Digging Box
Tug might be one of the favorites of my dog, however, digging unquestionably takes the top spot. If your dog loves to dig, having a dedicated digging box for them is a way to encourage them to dig in an approved area. It encourages your dog to not dig in the garden. If you want to put in the work, create a digging box with some wood and sand from your local hardware store. If you have a lot of cats in the neighborhood, better build a top to keep it from becoming a litter box.
Few dogs will be thrilled to have a place to dig to their heart’s content. If you have bought or created a digging box and your dog doesn’t dig right away you can make it a game by burying some of your dog’s favorite toys in the box and encouraging your dog to dig them out.
6. Teach Your Dog to Clean Up His Toys
Do you keep your dog’s toys in a container, then you can give them a lot of mental stimulation by teaching them to put their toys away. If it sounds weird to teach your dog to clean up after themselves, it’s not, it is a lot of fun. Teaching your dog new skills boosts their confidence, it also is a great way to give them mental stimulation.
If your dog already understands “drop it” have them pick up a toy and give them their drop it command; once they are standing over the toy container. Praise them plenty for this achievement, then repeat till it is no longer a chore. Eventually, you’ll have a dog that can clean up after himself.
7. Make Your Dog Learn a New Trick
Your dog does not need to know how to weave through your legs and jump through a hoop, however, there’s no harm in teaching him how to do so. There is always a trick you can teach your dog to keep yourselves occupied. For example, teach your dog to ring a bell if need to attend nature’s calls, teach him how to give a high-five, etc.
If your dog already knows a bunch of tricks, one of the best things about trick training is there is always room to improvise and make it more fun and challenging. After your dog learns a bunch of tricks you amp it up and combine their learned behaviors into brand-new tricks.
8. Hide & Seek
A fun game, in general, to play with other humans or with your dog is hide and seek. Though I still am not successful in teaching Jiraiya how to play Hide and Seek, I’m confident he’ll love it once he learns it. As Hide and seek lets your dog use some of their natural scent-tracking abilities in a fun and stimulating way.
Playing hide and seek with your dog is simple, ask your dog to stay while you go find a hiding spot. After you are situated call your dog, then praise them when they find you. If your dog does not properly understand the ‘stay’ command yet, then you can enlist the help of someone else to distract your dog while you hide.
9. Use a Stuffed Kong to Keep Your Dog Entertained
Stuffed Kongs are my favorite toys when it comes to relieving dog boredom. They are so easy to prepare. If you need to keep your dog busy for, awhile stuff a Kong with some of their favorite treats. You can freeze some broth inside, or just stuff it with some treats and give your dog something to work for.
Using a stuffed Kong is a great way to keep your dog occupied while you can’t assign time to play. Place the stuffed Kong in the freezer overnight, then give it to your dog in the morning while you leave. A frozen Kong will last 30+ minutes for most dogs, it will last much longer if you fill it.
Classic Kongs are great because they’re nontoxic, indestructible, and dishwasher-safe.
10. Make Your Dog Work for His Food
Our dogs lead a nice comfy life — they get a warm bed, loads of attention, and get all their meals for free. However, our dogs were bred to work alongside us, and the majority of dogs are missing out on some mentally stimulating activities. They are natural scavengers, so having them work for their food is not mean or out of the ordinary, it is instinctual and mentally stimulating for them.
The easiest way to challenge your dog’s mind is by making them work for their food, this can be by telling your dog to perform some tricks before he gets his dinner, or you could have them eat from a food dispensing toy.
If you happen to be a busy individual, and cannot cater to the time it requires to play with your dog, however, and still want to let your dog enjoy, you can do so. When I have work to tend to, I let Jiraiya loose out in the garden, give him a ball, and he keeps busy till he’s tired.
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