Games are fun, but they can also teach your puppy valuable skills like retrieving, searching, and obedience. Depending on your puppy's personality and temperament, you can teach your puppy variations of games as vast as your imagination.
Fetch is a favorite game and can be useful for reinforcing the "coming when called" command, as well as teaching your puppy to bring the newspaper or your slippers if you are so inclined. Learn more about teaching your dog to Fetch.
- Playing fetch games provides some good exercise for your dog. It also provides a good way to get those toys back so you don't end up getting all the exercise.
- In the beginning, roll the toy away from your dog and let him get it.
- When he picks it up, say, "Fetch!" so he begins to associate the command with the action. Then praise him with an excited voice.
- As he gets older, throw the toy a little further.
- When he brings it back, give lots of praise and let your dog play with the toy for a few minutes so he gains some benefit from his effort of retrieving it.
- If he doesn't bring it back, use a long lead attached to his collar. Gently reel your dog in with the toy and praise him for coming back.
- Pet him, but avoid his head so he doesn't think you're going to immediately take the toy from him.
- Care should be taken playing this game vigorously with growing dogs. Avoid playing on slippery surfaces and ask your veterinarian how much fetch is appropriate for your age and breed of dog.
Some dogs enjoy the chase of the toy and retrieving it and want you to throw it again immediately. Others want the toy with less chasing and retrieving.
Once he's had a minute or so to play with the toy, your dog may drop it on his own. If he does, say, "Drop," to reinforce the behavior. If he doesn't drop it on his own, get a light grip on the toy and wait until the puppy releases the toy. Praise him when he lets go of it and throw it again. You could click and then toss the toy again. If you choose to click make sure you do so the instant that he drops the toy.
Find-the-toy type games teach your puppy to rely on his sense of smell and use his brain. They can also prepare your puppy for tracking.
Agility games are a great way to burn off extra calories and energy. They also increase your puppy's coordination and confidence. Dogs love the challenge of jumping and negotiating obstacles as well as getting the praise you give when they do well. But before you start, be sure to find a trainer who understands that puppies should not stressing their growing bones, joints or muscles through excessive jumping or strenuous exercise.
In the end, games are about a connection between you and your puppy. Sure, your puppy has toys that are fun and provide entertainment. But games include you, and that's the best as far as your puppy is concerned.