Many people think of fetch or tug-of-war when it comes to games to play with your dogs. However, there are some pups who might be too old, nervous, or just not thrilled with the prospect of one of these standard dog games.
In fact, they might rather go for a long walk and track a scent, learn new tricks, or snuggle extra close to you.
Dogs like to play differently, depending on their breed, age, and of course, their individual personality. Just because your pooch hasn’t responded to any of your dog games in the past doesn’t mean they won’t ever play. It just means you haven’t found the right game for your pup yet.
It can be frustrating trying to find a game your dog enjoys, but it’s totally worth the effort. Games can be used to give your dog exercise, mental stimulation, and even a sense of purpose.
It’s also a great excuse to spend some time bonding with your dog. And that’s why you got a dog in the first place, right?
Here are six common styles of dog play and how to find the right game for your dog.
Games For The Jock Dog
The jock dog is spunky and athletic. They are always excited when you come home, love bringing you toys for tug-of-war, and love exploring. If this is your dog, you can try out a lot of activities.
Favorite games include:
- Fetch–the longer the throw, the better
- Agility sports
- Long hikes
- Jogging or even running
- Trips to the dog park. Let the dogs play their own games and tire each other out!
Anything high energy–both mental and physical–will keep the jock dog entertained.
The Ball Hound
If your dog hides and retrieves toys, balls, and occasionally one of your socks, they are definitely a ball hound. Keeping these toy-obsessed doggies happy involves stepping up your standard fetch game.
If you have a Retriever, chances are they love the water as well. Try out fetch in a nearby lake, or try out one of these other ball hound activities.
The Couch Potato
Would your dog rather sit on the couch with you and binge watch Netflix instead of play in an active manner?
It can be hard to convince a coach potato pup to get their energy up, but it is vital to their health. Taking your leisurely pup out on a long stroll is a low-impact way of keeping them healthy and strong.
Here are a few other ways to keep your pup active if they prefer a more sedentary lifestyle:
- Learn and practice basic commands. That may not seem like much of a game, but your pup will find it fun.
- Play an indoor game of mini-fetch on a rug or carpet
- Scatter their food in a few “hiding” places so they have to move and look for it
- Get a puzzle feeder for some added stimulation at meal time
- Have a doggy play date. Sometimes a more active friend can convince a pooch to play.
The Diggity Dog
Does your dog love to dig? Some dogs just feel the urge to paw and claw at furniture, in backyards, and in your dirty laundry more than others.
To keep your dog’s digging behavior from becoming destructive, try giving them their own place to dig–and reward them with treats. You can provide them with a sandbox or a place in the yard with plenty of dirt.
You may also want to try tossing their toys under beds or low tables during a game of fetch. The feeling of tunneling may appeal to their digger roots.
Speaking of tunnels, some digger dogs love to play in a good kiddie tunnel, too. You can recycle your kids’ old tunnel toys or buy a tunnel just for your pooch!
Dogs bred to track scents, like Beagles and hounds, tend to follow their nose wherever it leads them. They have an instinct to track down scents, which can be used for several different activities.
If you really want to go above and beyond, you can even train your scent hound how to be a search and rescue dog.
Or you can simply take scent work classes just for fun. Lots of doggy daycares and training facilities offer these fun classes that provide a great way for owners to bond with their dogs.
Another fun game to play might be a version of hide and seek. In this version, you hide a valuable item, like a toy or treat, then give your dog a command to sniff it out. Start with obvious locations, then move to more challenging ones.
Of course, a classic long walk can provide your dog with plenty of smells to sniff. Try walking somewhere you haven’t been before. The new odors will give your pup some mental stimulation.
The Smart Cookie
You know if you have a smart cookie pup. They tend to somehow be a step ahead of you, whether its grabbing the leash for a walk or chewing up your favorite shoe because you didn’t give them their dinner on time.
In order to keep your smart pup from becoming destructive out of boredom, play some mentally stimulating games with them.
If you have the ability to commit to agility lessons, your smart cookie dog would benefit immensely. If not, here are a few other challenging games to introduce to your pup:
- Herding exercises. You don’t need to own sheep. Some trainers will offer classes or private lessons.
- Learn new, creative tricks. Has your pup learned any Harry Potter spells?
- Puzzle toys. Give them a mental workout.
- Name game. Assign a name to each of your dog’s toys. When they bring the right one, reward them. Introduce new toys from time to time.
- Maze or obstacle course. You can get really creative. Lots of people make mazes out of snow or obstacle courses out of pool noodles.
Don’t forget the physical workout, too. Even many brainy dogs will have fun with jock dog games.
As always, before starting any new exercise regimen with your dog, run it by your vet. Keep safety in mind with all of your activities, and make sure to give your pup rest if they need it.
What type of dog do you have? And what kind of games do they love? Let us know in the comments below!
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