FUN Things You Can Teach Your Dog

When you are looking to interact with your dog in other ways rather than the typical walks and obedience work, you can teach her thinking games.  Often, if you identify what your dog already has an aptitude for, you can develop on that.  Does she use her eyes or her nose more?  Below are some ideas to get you started:

  • Names of family members/pets: "Where's ________?  Go find ________!"
  • Find it - teach a "sit" and "wait" while you go hide the item, then come back and release with, "OK!  Go Find _____!"  Start with the item close - even in the same room, and help her.
  • Find a person - teach a "sit" and "wait" while someone hides, and release with, "OK!  Go find ______!"  Or, if the person you want your dog to find is YOU, then, after you have hidden, call your dog!  (your dog may need help in "waiting", at first, with another person holding her.
  • Hide & Seek  (a particular favorite around my house is ROAR!)
  • Names for toys
  • Catch - start with popcorn first, because it is light
  • Frisbee - start with dog close, first
  • Pick up your toys (and put them away!)
  • "Magic" tricks
    - treat under cup, 3 cups to choose from
    - find treat under towel or rug (try hiding a toy or treat under a large towel, old blanket or rug - first show your dog where you
      are putting it, then cover it, and tell her to "find it"!
    - pick hand treat or toy is in
  • Walk between legs while you are walking (weaving in and out) - just one of the many Freestyle moves you can teach your dog!
  • Jump through a hula-hoop
  • Tricks:  gimme 5 (gimme change, too!), roll over, sit up, play dead ("bang!"), treat on nose, speak, high 5 -- use your imagination!
  • Two boxes on their sides - take a treat or food, and with your dog sitting facing the box bottoms (the box opening is out of the dog's sight) show the dog the item and put it into one of the box openings.  Release your dog ("OK!") and tell him to "find it!"
  • There are all kinds of puzzle toys on the market - ones that dispense food or treats, and some that can be taken apart
  • "Touch" - teach touch with his nose. "Touch" the palm of my hand, "touch" the tip of a stick - this is the start of "target training".
  • You can make obstacles and create an "agility" course with things found around most homes: broomstick on the rungs of 2 chairs to create a jump, weave in and out of dowels stuck in the ground (about 18" apart) or ski poles, pause "box" with an old rug, jump through an old tire (the original agility tire jump!), kids' play tunnels can be found at toy stores...

 

Pam Young, LVT CDBC CPDT  
Dog Gone Good LLC
Dog Behavior Consultant
Personal Dog Trainer