Puppies can be hard work at times and we can get so wrapped up in training obedience and teaching rules to our puppy that we forget to have fun and build a relationship with them.
With a good relationship comes a good puppy, that is keen to behave for you, wants to interact with you and therefore will be more obedient for you and enjoy thinking and problem solving.
These are my top 4 games to play with your puppy!
1. Hide and seek
You’ll need a friend for this until your puppy can sit still on its own.
Ask your friend to keep hold of your puppy in one room of the house and tell them not to let go until you shout the puppies name.
Go and hide in another room then call your puppy loud and enthusiastically.
Once your puppy finds you tell them they are good and give them a big fuss and a cuddle, then go find their favourite treat or toy and reward with that too! I normally shout “yaaaayy” once I’m found.
If you live with other people then everyone should take turns hiding.
As your puppy gets older and you’ve played this game a lot then try hiding but not calling them, just ask the person to let go. Your puppy should come and seek you out on their own.
2. Find the treats!
Take a plastic cup and a treat and sit on the floor with your puppy, get them interested in the treat and place it under the cup then let the puppy try to get it out.
Next have 2 cups and gently restrain your puppy and place a treat under 1 of the 2 cups. Let your puppy go and find which treat the cup is under.
Its also great fun to scatter a few treats in the grass or under leaves and let your puppy sniff and search them out, using their strong sense of smell. Your puppy will find this very stimulating and quite tiring.
3. Find my face
This is a great focus game that I use in my puppy classes.
Stand up with a treat in your hand and make sure the puppy is interested in you and looking at you. Turn around on the spot and put your back to the puppy and wait. As soon as your puppy comes within eyesight reward them with praise and the treat.
The idea is that the puppy is seeking out attention and contact from you and giving your face their focus.
4. Tug of war
Tuggy is a brilliant game that all puppies should be encouraged to do. Despite the old myths, science has proven that it does not encourage aggression in dogs.
Using a piece of soft rag or a long fleece toy wiggle it like a snake along the floor and encourage your puppy to chase and pounce on it.
Keep hold of one end and gently tease the toy away, encouraging the puppy to keep hold of the other end.
Some puppies, such as terriers, will naturally be vicious tuggers where as others take encouragment.
Tugging is an interactive game that requires you to be involved to give the dog the fun. It can be used as a reward for obedience such as after a recall or a nice bit of loose lead walking and many dogs would prefer to tug than be given a piece of food.
Make sure to let your dog win the tug from time to time to keep up their confidence and encourage them to bring the toy back to you to continue tugging. Also teach your puppy a give or drop command so that they let go when you ask, just in case they start tugging with your favourite shoes or jeans!