24 March 2020 | Life with your best friend

Games beyond “fetch”

10 games to play with your dog during LOCK DOWN

Lock down: the mere thought conjures up lazy days in the garden, catching up on reading, and quality time with your kids. It is also a great time to be able to spend with your furry family. The daily walk is now prohibited, but your doggie still needs to be exercised. During the lock down, you have the time to really bond with your pets, so make the most of it while you can. Below are a few suggestions for games to play, other than good old ‘fetch’, to not only strengthen the bond between owner and pet, but to stimulate the mind and body (of you and your dog) too.

It would be best if your dog knew the basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’ before attempting any of these games. It will make it much more fun and less frustrating for you and pup both!

Treat Treasure Hunt

Think of it as an Easter Egg Hunt for dogs. Hide food around the house or garden – without your dog seeing you doing the hiding of course – and then send your dog to find his treats. To make it more challenging, rub the food against some objects, just leaving the scent behind. This encourages the dog learn to differentiate between the actual treat and just the scent – great for mental stimulation.

Obstacle Course

Create an obstacle course outside (or inside on a rainy day) out of boxes, chairs, brooms and towels. Take your dog through the course a couple of times, using treats at each obstacle as a reward, and then see if he can do it himself.

Hide and seek
Your dog will need to know the ‘stay’ and ‘come’ command for this one. Tell your dog to ‘stay’ and then go and hide (don’t make it too difficult – and make sure you are accessible). Call ‘come’ after a few minutes. This is a fun way for your dog to learn discipline as well as keeping him and you occupied and entertained!

Tug of war
Tug of war is not for all dogs as it can encourage aggression. But it’s a great game to play when teaching the ‘drop’ command. There are plenty of toys on the market that encourage tug of war games, but an old towel lying around at home, will do the job too.

The word game
Who says dogs can’t understand human vocab? Take one or two of your dog’s favourite toys, but keep it simple like ‘rope’ and ‘bear’. Say the word loudly and clearly and then throw it a short distance away and encourage your dog to fetch. Do this repeatedly with the two toys, and your dog will soon learn the difference in the two toys names. Once he knows them, introduce more toys to the mix. Soon you’ll be impressing your friends by saying ‘find bear’, and your pooch will trot off to find it, even when ‘bear’ is out of sight.

Basic commands: the game
Still struggling with your dog learning the basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’ etc? Why not make a game out of it. Using food as the reward, encourage him to do the actions according to the various commands over and over again, switching between them. Once he has the basics down pat, you can move onto the more advanced; ‘roll over’, ‘paw’ etc.

You’ve seen the TV ads where the Border Collie leaps into the air to catch the Frisbee so effortlessly. In reality, catching a Frisbee is not as easy as it may seem. Unlike a ball, its disc-like shape is quite difficult to catch when flying through air, therefore making this a great game to teach concentration. Start off by throwing the Frisbee low to the ground, making it as ‘easy’ to catch as possible, gradually tossing it higher and higher.

Making your dog run up and down stairs is a great way to tire them out. But add some discipline to the game, by making sure they ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ at the top or bottom before calling them to ‘come’. This is a great game to exhaust them on lock down days.

Water hose
Trying to catch the water from the hose is a game dogs never tire of.  Move the hose around so that your dog has to chase the stream of water. Not all dogs like water though, and some might attack the hose itself. So give it a try, and if your dog displays any untoward behaviour, stop the game immediately.

This is a great game to include your kids. Make sure the ball is large enough so that the dog can’t pick it up, and also one that is difficult to puncture with their teeth. Kick the ball, and get your dog to chase after it. Once he’s caught it, let him play with it for a bit, then kick it away again. Your dog might even eventually learn to ‘kick’ it back to you.


Don’t get so caught up in the game that you forget to praise and reward your dog whenever they do something correctly. By using positive reinforcement, they will soon learn the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of playing the game and your relationship will soon reach new heights.

Bare in mind, these are just a few suggestions. Feel free to make up some of your own and why not post them below to share them with fellow dog lovers?

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