Title: Winter Time Games with Your Dog
By: Brandi Barker, MFA, CPDT    2010-03-08   1:33 PM     4754 Views      Category: Training
Some dogs need more stimulation than the weather or our bodies are able to provide. We often think our dogs require long games of fetch to satisfy their need for fun.  Mental games are just as important for a dog’s daily exercise and long-term good behavior. Here are some fun cold weather games to wear out your dynamic dog. 

1.   Play Hide and Seek . Put your dog in “stay” and go to another area of the house. Happily tell your dog to “find me”.  Vary your hiding spots and move further away as your dog understands the expectations of the game. 

2.   Feed meals out of a Kong or other treat dispensing toy instead of the bowl .  It takes  much longer to eat this way and it is easy exercise to teach appropriate mouthing. 

3.   Have your dog lie down and “wait” as you slowly toss little pieces of kibble on the floor. After doing so, cue “take it”. Dogs naturally forage so eating a meal this way is a great way to provide some innate stimulation.

4.   Play fetch but require a “wait” before tossing the toy. Incorporate “come” when your dog she runs back and always require a “drop” for the game to continue.  If your fetch game could use some tweaking, check out our tips on how to shape the behavior (insert link five dog tricks). 

5.   Play tug . Make your dog “sit” or “down” and “wait” then say “take it”. Let your dog tug for 3 seconds, and “drop”. If your dog does not release it, offer a treat to physically get the mouth off the toy, but do not allow your dog to eat the treat. The toy goes behind your back for a second since your dog did not respond, try again. If your dog readily drops the toy the game continues.  Always tug side to side, not up and down to prevent any damage to your dog’s neck. If you dog nips your fingers or becomes growly during tug, choose a different game to play. 

6.   Some dogs like to chase drugstore bubbles

7.   Teach your dog to jump over a hula hoop .  Hold the hula hoop on the ground and cue “over” as your lure your dog through. You can also teach “under” and “around”. It is critical to keep the hoop on the ground until your dog is very versed in stepping over it. Lifting the hoop too high too soon or on a slippery surface can cause serious physical damage. 

8.   Teach your dog to name her toys by holding one and say “Kong” and “yes” when your dog touches it. Do this with a couple toys and then slowly work up to hiding them and say “find your Kong”. 

9.   Play tag . One person holds a treat in your hand and the other says “find John”, “yes” when your dog touches John's hand. Slowly get further away. 

10.   Recalls in the hallway , one of you hold your dog and the other gets her excited   then   says “come” and give tons of praise  and require a “sit” when your dog runs to you to prevent jumping. 

11.   Take your dog to a tennis court and run around so she chases you. Tons of praise when your dog follows without jumping. Stop on occasion and have ask for a “sit” so your dog has a nice on/off switch. 

12.   Teach a new trick . IMPORTANT: These games should be initiated by you when she's being good, not as a response to her tossing a toy at you.
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