There are few things in this world that dogs enjoy more than a good play session with their favorite humans. Regular play with your dog will always be the quickest way to their heart and obedience. When it comes to the relationship that you have with your dog, play will not only strengthen your bond but also act as the perfect avenue to teach them new skills. Ultimately, play is your secret weapon to take your training to a whole new level. As a result of using dog training games, your dog will be quick to do anything you ask and enjoy doing it as well!
As a dog trainer and dog owner for almost 10 years, I get a first-hand look at the power of play and it's effectiveness with all dogs, no matter their breed or age! Here are five of my favorite dog training games that help with everything from impulse control, to focusing while distractions are present.
This fun game sharpens your leash walking skills with your dog and will help teach them to come back to you when they feel any tension on the leash.
Tip: You can also mark and reward your dog anytime they look at you. This will teach your dog to look to you automatically, and will help speed your progress!
Tug toys and flirt poles are a great way to engage in play with your dog. This fun game will utilize such toys while teaching impulse control and increasing your dog's overall reliability with their cues. Before you begin, make sure your dog knows a reliable "drop it" cue and at least one or two other cues that you can ask for.
Tip: If your dog is having a hard time, take a break and try again with the game being calmer or shorter.
Many dogs will struggle with distractions at some point, and this game teaches them to notice distractions calmly. Stay consistent with this game and your dog will eventually learn that distractions are a cue for them to look to you!
Tip: Keep in mind that dogs are not good at generalizing, so stay consistent and go back to step 2 if your dog isn't looking to you.
A reliable recall could save your dog's life and it is one of the most important behaviors you can ever teach your dog. This game makes coming when called fun and exciting!
Tip: If your dog doesn't come to you right away, try calling them again, but avoid repeating your cue over and over. Try instead making an exciting noise like kissing noises to interest your dog and motivate them to come to you.
Playing exchange games with your dog is a great way to prevent resource guarding which is a very normal and common behavior in dogs, just not one that we like to see. If your dog is already protective over their resources, please consult a dog training professional near you before trying this game.
Tip: If your dog is tense or shows any signs of stress during the game then discontinue the game and contact a professional for further help.
I hope you and your dog enjoy these games as much we have! Each one was inspired and learned from top dog trainers in the industry such as; Laura VanArendonk Baugh of Canines in Action, Inc., Karen Pryor of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and Karen Pryor Academy, Jean Donaldson of the Academy for Dog Trainers, and Kayla Fratt of Journey Dog Training.
Contributor: Presley Carte of One Fine Canine Dog Training
Presley started her training career in 2011 and is certified through the Certifying Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA). She uses humane, science-based training methods and specializes in wolfdogs and fearful/reactive dogs. She loves nothing more than working together with pet parents and their dogs to achieve their goals and build their relationship.