Games to play with an untrained dog
Playing with your dog is a great way to build a bond, stimulate his mind and keep him out of mischief. Unfortunately, most games involve the dog requiring a bit of training – which discourages owners from teaching their pets the game. Here are 3 games you can teach any dog of any age to play, regardless of the amount of training it has had. In fact, the games described here will actually help train your dog. All you need is to have an enthusiastic and positive attitude and plenty of rewards.No! Get down! Stop jumping… I’m so sorry… he doesn’t mean any harm… I said stop it! ROVER! Sounds familiar? Is your dog one of the many that loves to greet guests by pouncing and slobbering all over them?
Hound Hide and Seek
All dogs are great at using their noses to seek out people, objects or anything you train them to find. After all, their ancestors used their noses to hunt down prey to eat. And till today, dogs enjoy using their sense of smell to sniff out anything and everything. A dog doesn’t need to be trained to use his nose – it happens naturally. All you have to do is help him understand what he has to find – you or a family member.
You can play this game in the house or outdoors. Get someone to hold onto your dog whilst you excitedly tease him with a toy and then run off and hide behind a large object (a door, cupboard or a tree). Let your dog watch you hide. Your helper should then ask your dog: “Where did she go? Go and FIND HER!” in an excited voice and release your dog. When your dog comes rushing to you, enthusiastically praise him and reward him with the toy.
Repeat the game a couple more times, making sure that each time your dog watches where you are hiding. Add to the complexity by hiding in another room or behind different bushes or trees each time.
Once your dog gets the gist of the game and is running to you enthusiastically, you can move up one level. Now when you go to hide, ask your helper to turn the dog around so that he cannot see where you have hidden – though he must have a general idea of the limited area in which to search or he will run around aimlessly.
When your dog finds you praise and reward him. If he has trouble, let him search for awhile, before you softly call out to him. Then let him work his way to you. At no point should you or your helper show him where you are hidden –as this will discourage him from using his nose and rely more on human help. Let him figure it out for himself.
Add to the spice of the game by switching off the lights in the house and then asking your dog to find you in the darkness. You will be amazed at how each time he finds you in a jiffy.
Bobbing for balls
This game is great to play with dogs that love water – like Labradors, Setters and Cocker Spaniels. Get a shallow, broad bucket or bin and fill it with a few inches of water. Then toss in a few tennis balls and encourage your retriever to pick them up. Most dogs will first be hesitant as their nose dips into the water, but they soon start enjoying the game. As your dog gets more proficient at it, you can increase the water level in the bucket, till the balls are floating.
Then you can practise getting your dog to retrieve as many balls as possible in a fixed period of time. Once your dog is bobbing for balls with speed and accuracy, you can invite a few friends over and get them to compete against your dog. Fill a bucket with apples for your friends and one with tennis balls for your dog and see who empties out the bucket first.
Over and under
Dogs love jumping over objects and crawling through low passages. You can turn this into a fun game which your dog will enjoy thoroughly. Have your dog on a leash whilst training him so that you can control him better. Place a low chair or stool in front of your dog and using a treat or a toy encourage him to jump over it. Practise this a few times, adding the command: “Over”, as he gets the gist. Practise this over a few training sessions spread over days till your dog understands the command.
Then in a separate training session, hold the treat or toy under the chair or stool and encourage him to crawl through. Initially, your dog may try and jump over the chair, but holding him low, using the leash and encouraging him with treats will make him understand that you want him to go under and not over. Repeat it till he gets the gist. Then start adding the command: “Under” every time he goes under the chair. Practise this separately over the next few training sessions.
Once he has grasped the concept, line up a few chairs and stools. Using the leash direct him to go over one obstacle and then under the next. Initially, you will need to have him on a leash to help him understand what you want of him. But as you play the game more often, he will get better at it and you can eventually remove the leash.
You can make the game more interesting by giving random commands of over and under. Let him guess what he has to do. Most dogs enjoy the way this game exercises not just their bodies, but also keeps their mind sharp. You will also love the way he stays focussed on you, listening to the different commands as he negotiates his way over and under the obstacles.