Puppyhood is a time of immense learning for your new furbaby. How you play with your puppy teaches them a lot about how to interact with people when they get older. Barriers and habits you set when you play with your puppy now will have repercussions when they are no longer small and fluffy. Adorable behavior when your dog weighs very little becomes less so as they age and grow larger.
Puppies are incredibly playful by nature, but should you play with your puppy in specific ways?
Ways To Play With Your Puppy
To tire out that seemingly endless energy, it’s best to have multiple games you enjoy playing with your puppy. That way they don’t become bored and resort to less desirable or destructive behaviors.
Run Around With Your Puppy
Puppies who run around are also puppies who nap and give you some peace.
Chase: A good ole fashioned game of chase is a great way to play with your puppy. Puppies naturally have a prey drive, an instinct to chase things that are moving. If you run away from your puppy, chances are they will pursue you. Just be aware that with puppies, the winner of a game of chase may try to nip the loser. Don’t be surprised if your puppy nips your heels once they catch up with you.
Hide And Seek: You can play hide and seek with your puppy! Start off with easy hiding places, like behind the couch or a tree. Call your puppy’s name to give them hints of where you are. You can also have a friend hold your puppy while you run and hide. The final phase of this game is to run and hide while your puppy is distracted. This game has an added bonus of teaching your puppy to pay attention to you and not wander too far away. When your puppy finds you, reward your puppy with a treat or toy.
Red Rover: Gather your family or a group of friends and stand in a circle with your puppy in the middle. Take turns calling your puppy’s name, rewarding them vigorously with praise or treats for coming to the person who called them. This game tires out your puppy, provides entertainment, and also lays the building blocks for training your dog how to recall later.
Flirt Pole: A flirt pole is a stick with a rope attached to the end. You can use this toy to tire out your puppy. The rope will stimulate your puppy’s prey drive and allow them to expend energy while you sit or stand in one place. Remember to let your puppy “win” by catching the rope lure periodically. You can buy a flirt pole or make your own.
Food Hunt: Hide your puppy’s kibble in various places and let them hunt it down. Just make sure you remember all your hiding places!
Food Puzzles: You can purchase food puzzles or create your own. Try using a muffin tin with food or treats in it and cover the holes with tennis balls (or any other toys).
Stuff Toys: Toys like Kongs can be stuffed with peanut butter, treats, cheese, or something else to keep your puppy occupied.
Games you can play inside are especially handy on rainy days when you can’t get outside and play.
Tug Of War: Knotted rope, a long piece of fabric, or any other kind of tug toy can suffice for a game of tug of war. You can also use this game to teach your puppy a “release” command. Initiate a tug game with your puppy. As you relax the tension in the tug toy, place your hand on your puppy’s collar. They will probably be so distracted by your hand that they will drop the toy. Praise them. If not, just wait for a second or two; if you aren’t playing, your puppy will grow bored and eventually let go. After he or she lets go of the toy, resume playing immediately. This teaches your puppy that if they let go, they can get back to playing that much faster.
Grooming: While this may not really be a game, it’s still important. Take time with your puppy to get them used to being groomed. Touch their feet, ears, mouth, teeth, etc to familiarize them with you performing their grooming needs.
Bubble Chase: Teach your dog to chase bubbles! If you want your puppy to chase bubbles, start blowing a couple at a time. Point them out to your puppy and encourage them to interact with the bubbles before they touch the ground. Before you know it, you’ll have your puppy running all over the room to catch the bubbles. Make sure you use bubbles made for kids as they are non-toxic.
Play With Your Puppy
Playing with your puppy is a great way to bond with the newest furry addition to your family. Games teach your puppy boundaries and also provide mental and physical stimulation they need. Play some of the games suggested above or come up with some of your own. Let us know what games your puppy likes to play!