The games you play with your puppy have a big impact on their overall behavior. Depending on which games you chose and how you play, the impact can be either positive or negative. Therefore, it is important to choose positive, instructive games. Games have several functions. They entertain, create a bond between you and your puppy, but also relieve stress and provide physical exercise. Of equal importance, games can provide your pup with mental challenges and aid in obedience training. Games can create negative behaviors in your pup. As you play, be conscious of exactly what you are encouraging your dog to do. Tug O War, wrestling and rough housing with your pup may seem harmless now, but remember you’re going to have a full grown dog in a few short months. The jaw pressure your puppy has now is going to increase dramatically and the adult teeth will all be present by eight or nine months of age. Ask yourself if you want your dog to play this way as an adult, or if you want him to play this way with children or elderly. Whenever you are playing with your pup, abruptly stop the game if any play biting occurs. Use the play-biting correction, accompanied by a firm tone of voice. After you release your pup from the correction, walk away and ignore him for a few minutes. (Keep a sneaky eye on him so there are no housebreaking accidents, but basically let him think he has been banished for his infraction.) After a few minutes, return and play again. Repeat the steps as necessary. Your pup will learn that the fun is over if he uses his teeth on you. There are many positive ways to entertain your dog, listed below are a few good choices.

Fetch: When teaching your pup to fetch, waive the ball in front of her face a bit. This movement should get her interested, and then toss the ball a few feet from you. Hopefully she will run over and pick up the ball. If so, make some noises or clap your hands as you move backwards and entice her to follow you. If she comes over to you praise her. Focusing on the pup instead of taking the ball will help her be less possessive of it. Take the ball and throw it again. If you simply keep it, she will be less likely to bring it the next time. If your pup retrieves the ball, but tries to do the ”You-can’t-get-me” dance in front of you, don’t chase her. She will love this more than bringing the ball to you. To counter the keep away game many pups will play, have two or three balls available and as she begins her dance, toss the next ball. The puppy will likely drop the first ball and go after the second. Now you can pick up the first one. Many puppies will only retrieve a few times before they become bored with the game. That is fine, don’t push it. Just play again later.

A greater desire to play is built with repetition and greater maturity. If your pup is not at all interested in retrieving, play a different game and try fetching another time.

Find It: Start your dog with a dog biscuit and easy finds. Put your dog on a sit – stay, show him the dog biscuit and let him smell it (but don’t let him grab it and eat it). Then set the biscuit on the floor a couple of feet in front of him, wait a second or two and say “Find It” as you release your pup to go get the treat. Your dog will easily be able to find it; after all it is right in front of him. For the first repetitions it is important that he can see where you place the biscuit. When he is beginning to understand this game move the treat further and further from him. Then hide the biscuit just out of sight, in the next room or in the hall (but placed in the middle of the floor where it is easily located). Next you gradually begin to hide the treat in more difficult locations, on a chair, under a rug, behind a potted plant, etc. At this time you can also introduce new objects for finding. You can use a toy, a ball or a family member. As long as your dog is sniffing and searching, encourage him and praise when he makes the find. If your dog gives up a search, it means you have moved ahead too quickly, so repeat some easy finds. It is important that your dog always be successful.

Trail of treats: Dogs love to track. It uses their wonderful sense of smell. And in this game they get to eat! Lay down a track of small treats throughout the house with a bigger reward at the end. The reward could be a few treats or a chew bone. Your puppy should be in a “Sit –Stay” to start and in the beginning she should watch you lay the track. In the early phases, the track should be straight and closely spaced but you will build up to more elaborate placing as time goes on. Release your pup from the “Sit –Stay”, point to the starting location and ask her to “Track” or “Search”. Eventually you should make the track more elaborate. Lay it without her watching, space the treats farther apart, under pillows, on low bookshelves, on chairs, etc. she will follow her nose and know she is finished when she finds the larger reward.

Agility: Teaching your pup to jump, crawl and climb on obstacles is fun, and good exercise. Agility play is also great for building your pup’s confidence. An increase in confidence aids in a dogs ability to be comfortable in new situations. Agility play is highly recommended for any pup that has a shy or fearful disposition. The practical application of working on agility exercises is that your puppy will be comfortable going up and down stairs, across a bridge, jumping a log on a hiking trail or simply walking up a ramp into the groomer’s bathtub. If you are a water enthusiast, take your pup swimming as soon as the weather permits. Not all dogs take naturally to water, so start now while they are young. There are many simple

obstacles you can create at home. You can construct jumps easily by suspending broomsticks or PVC pipe from any object that will support them. For variety, you might drape a sheet or towel over the stick to make it appear solid. Hula hoops are also great for jumps. There easy to transport and inexpensive. Tunnels can be created by taping cardboard appliance boxes together. You can set up traffic cones in a line and have your dog weave through them. Use your imagination the possibilities are endless. As with any type of training be patient and use lots of praise. Some dogs take to agility very quickly, while others need a bit more encouragement. Don’t attempt jumps or hurdles that are too high until your puppy has reached her full height and weight.

Leave a Comment

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top