With the school holidays over as we head into September, I thought it was the best time to make dog owners with children aware that this time is not only a big change for your child/children as they enter a new year, but is also a large change for your dog. This is due to how children going back to school is usually accompanied by changes such as the house becoming quieter, which can lead to negative effects like your dog becoming bored, and your dog missing the loud noise your child/children most likely brought to the house. There are many ways to stimulate your dog to avoid this boredom, such as games for your dogs that are both free and that can be purchased, so I have compiled a list of some of these for you to try, if you please.
10 Games for Dogs:
Hide and Seek
A classic game to play with your children, which you may have had practise playing in the summer holidays, can also be played with your doggo. Of course, the human has to hide whilst you tell your dog to stay and then when you’ve found your perfect hiding spot you should yell out “Come” followed by your doggo’s name. Your dog will then use his nose and ears to seek you out.
The Cup Game
Yes, there is a doggy version for the cup game! All you have to do is line up three cups on the floor in front of your dog, put a smelly treat under one of the cups and then let your dog watch as you move the cups around. When they pick the right cup, give them the treat. Simple right?
The Which Hand Game
Similar to the cup game, just without cups and with your hands, this classic game can be played with your furry friends. Make sure your dog is in the sit position while you get some of your dog’s favourite treats and then place the treat in one of your hands as your dog is watching. Close your hands into a fist, extend them and ask your dog “which hand?”. Your dog should then touch or signal the hand they think is correct. If they are correct, praise them and give them the treat! If they don’t get this correct first time around, make sure you only reward them when they get it right, so they start to realise the objective of the game.
Treasure Hunt (or Treat Hunt!)
When I was a child, I used to love a treasure hunt, and so will your dog. Dogs are very powerful sniffers and so this is the perfect game for them. Try hiding some smelly treats somewhere and let them search for the treasure!
The Muffin Tin Game
Using a muffin tin, put some treats into some of the holes and then cover all of these holes with things such as a ball or toy. Your dog will then learn how to remove the balls/toy to get what they truly want; treats!
Tag, You’re It!
Tag, you’re it is yet another loved game from childhood that can be played with a twist for our doggos. This game will require at least two humans who should put treats into their pockets and then stand in two different places. One person will call the dog and reward them with a treat once they have come, and then the other person will do the same. The game can be made harder by moving further and further away from each other, allowing your dog to run more. After doing this a few times, try to only reward with a treat after every third or fourth recall, instead rewarding with lots of praise and affection after each time they respond to their name, to reduce food intake whilst your dog is increasing their exercise!
Hot and Cold Game
This game, which I remember constantly playing at school, can even be played with dogs. When your dog is not looking, hide a treat. Then, for colder, meaning they are not near the treat, use a calm tone. For hotter, meaning they are getting closer to the hidden treat, use a more excited tone. This overall allows your doggo to increase their listening skills whilst also stimulating them mentally.
There are many different dog puzzles which can be purchased that are great for relieving boredom. These can be purchased online or even in stores, just have a google around or head to your local pet stores.
Kong offer their classic dog toy that can fulfil many needs of your doggo, especially chewing, but even playing. You can even stuff this with a treat, from dry food to sticky substances like a dash of peanut butter, which will extend your dog’s play time because these sticky substances increase the difficulty for your dog. The more tightly packed the food, the more challenging it will be for your dog. There are even recipes you can find online for stuffing your Kong!
They come in all different sizes depending on the weight of your dog. These can be purchased from many outlets, including Amazon and Fetch. KONG also do a lot of other dog dispensing toys that can be purchased so be sure to have a look!
Usually for us humans, putting things away would definitely not be considered fun or a game, but for our dogs it can be very mentally stimulating as you are teaching them a new skill. Scatter their toys around (if they haven’t done this themselves already!) and have them find each one and put it away where they usually go (like in a basket or a container). If your dog knows the “drop it” command, tell them this command once they are standing over where they should go. You can also try training them on understanding what “put it away” means and then pointing to each toy and saying this command until they are all put away. After lots of practice, you can begin to increase the difficulty by scattering them further and further away, even in different rooms.
I hope you have fun playing these games with your doggos!