14 Games to Play with Your Dog: Game Time Fun & Happiness
Are you searching for games to play with dogs while you’re staying at home? We’re happy you’re here!
You can perk up your pup and add smiles to your day with these 14 fun dog games that you can play together! Keeping your dog’s mind active is fun for both you and your furry friend.
(Note: Happy-Go-Doodle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)
Old-Fashioned Childhood Games You Can Play with Your Dog
There’s something about good, old-fashioned games from childhood that bring back fond memories. That’s why Chloe (my Goldendoodle dog) and I put our heads together to create tail-wagging twists to 14 classic, easy, and familiar games.
Note: Happy-Go-Doodle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Keep Your Dog’s Mind Active
The list below includes a variety of fun and familiar dog games for you and your furry pal to play together. Most of them require nothing more than your dog, you, and some treats or toys. Plus, because they’re familiar to you, they’re quick and easy for you to teach your furry pal.
Finally, these dog games incorporate your dog’s need for mental stimulation, physical exercise, and even scent work too. And since we’re on the subject of scent, we “nose” your dog will love these games—because game time means more time together with you!
1. Springtime Treat Hunt: a fun scent-work game for dogs
Objective: Take the classic Easter egg hunt, replace the eggs with dog treats, and you and your beloved dog will have a treasure hunt of fun as your dog uses his or her nose to track down the hidden dog treats.
How to play:
What you’ll need: Dog treats, two humans, one dog
1. Decide what treats you will use for hiding. Choose a dog treat that your dog will love. As you can see in the photos, I chose kibble and chopped up carrots.
2. While one player distracts the dog, the other player “hides” the treats in one room of the house. (We like to play this game outside on the patio.) Hiding doesn’t need to be difficult. Simply drop a treat here or there. I don’t recommend placing the treats on counters or tables since that will teach your dog to counter surf!
2. Once the treats are “hidden,” the player who has been in charge of distracting the dog gives the verbal ok in an excited tone of voice. For example, we say, “Find it!” in a happy voice. Until the dog has played the game a few times, you may need to help by walking close to a treat and helping out.
3. As your dog searches for the treats, you can help coach him or her closer to a treat (just like when you play the human version and say, “you’re getting hotter”) by using an excited, faster tone of voice and a verbal cue. For example, we repeatedly say, “Good, Chloe!” When your dog is straying (just like when you play the human version and say, “you’re getting colder”), use a calm, slow voice and a verbal cue. For example, we say, “Not there.”
Benefits for your dog: Hidden treat games offer dogs the opportunity to use their extraordinary sense of smell and increase their listening skills.
2. Red Rover, Come On Over!
Objective: This twist on the classic game of Red Rover is a fun way to reinforce the basic “come” obedience command.
What you’ll need: Two humans, one dog
How to play:
With your puppy beside you, the other player (who is not too far away), says “Come!” and the puppy’s name. When your puppy comes, the other player gives praise and says, “Good, come!” Then it’s your turn to say, “Come!” Your puppy gets to scamper between the two of you and gets lots of love and praise, all while brushing up on the basic come command!
Benefits for your dog: A Red Rover or “volleying” style of dog game offers basic training and challenges dogs mentally and physically.
3. Red Rover, Come WAAAAY On Over
This is the extreme version of game #2 above. As your dog gets increasingly confident with the come command, keep extending the distance between you and the other player. Go from a few feet apart and work your way up to adjacent rooms. Eventually, you and the other player may be at completely opposite ends of the house! Your dog will love romping between the two of you and get physical exercise too.
4. Hide and Treat
Objective: This indoor game is a dog-friendly twist on the classic childhood game of hide and seek.
What you’ll need: Two humans, dog treats, your dog
How to play:
Have one player hide while the other player distracts your dog. Once out of view of the dog or in a hiding spot, the Hider calls for the dog to come and find them. (For example, the Hider could say, “Find me, Fido!”) The Hider waits while the dog starts searching.
Once the dog finds the Hider, the Hider gives an abundance of praise, belly rubs, snuggles, and a dog treat.
Variation: If your dog has learned the sit and stay commands, you can ask your dog to “stay” while you hide and then say “come” as the signal for your dog to find you.
Places to hide: Hiding places don’t have to be difficult. As long as you’re out of sight from your dog, you’re hidden. Plus, you can hide in the same places over and over. Your dog doesn’t care!
Here are a few ideas for hiding places to help you get started:
- stand behind a door
- sit on the floor in an adjacent room
- crouch behind a chair
- please don’t hide in a place that your dog can’t get to easily.
After you’ve played this game a few times, watch to see if your dog checks the places you’ve already hidden before continuing on to find you.
Benefit to your dog: Your dog’s keen sense of smell will help him or her find you, which makes this great scent work that’s fun too.
5. Hide and…SQUEAK!
Objective: For the dog who loves squeaky toys, turn the classic childhood game of hide and seek into a dog-friendly game of hide and…SQUEAK!
What you’ll need: Two humans, one squeaky toy, your dog
How to play:
The premise of this indoor dog game is the same as #4 above. Have one player hide while the other player distracts your dog. Once out of view of the dog or in a hiding spot, the Hider calls for the dog to come and find them. (For example, the Hider could say, “Find me, Fido!”) The Hider waits quietly while the dog starts searching. If the dog is having trouble, the Hider can squeak the dog toy as a hint.
Once the dog finds the Hider, there is a great celebration of squeaky toy happiness and your exuberant joy. Of course, your dog gets to play with the squeaky toy and receives lots of praise from you.
When your dog has found you, start again. In round two, switch players and the Hider becomes the one who distracts the dog while the other player hides. If your dog knows how to “sit” and “stay,” you can play this game with one player.
7. Circle Time
Objective: Create a circle of loved ones around your dog and share lots of praise when your furry family member comes to each of you.
What you’ll need: Four or more humans, your dog
How to play:
This game is fun for families and groups! The human players form a circle and stand about an arms-length or so apart from each other. One player asks your canine companion to “sit” and “stay” in the center of the circle. Then choose one player to call the dog’s name and say, “Come!” When the dog comes to the player, he gets a treat or a reward. Repeat the steps until everyone has had a turn or your dog tires of play.
A fun twist to this dog game: If your dog loves toys (Chloe’s favorite is a tennis ball), have players hold a different type of toy behind their backs. When a player says “come” and the dog responds, share the toy and let your canine companion play with it before resuming the game.
8. Eye Hugs
Do you remember challenging one of your siblings or friends to a staring contest when you were a kid? The first one who blinked lost? This is not that game. No staring here. Rather, let’s share loving gazes into your dog’s eyes. Give your dog a hug with your eyes in what’s described by experts as “eye hugs.”
What you’ll need: Just you, your dog, and your dog’s favorite treat
How to play:
While your dog is sitting by you on the couch or when you’re both sitting on the floor, ask your dog to “watch me.” Encourage your dog to look into your eyes by bringing a treat, held between your fingers, up to your forehead. As soon as your dog looks at the treat (and therefore, toward your eyes), give your dog the treat.
As you continue playing this game, your dog will learn the visual and verbal cue. You can gradually switch away from using a treat and simply say, “watch me!” Remember to give your dog lots of verbal praise.
To make this even sweeter, instead of using the verbal cue “watch me,” use the verbal cue “eye hugs.” After all, your dog’s gaze truly is a loving hug.
Fun fact: Did you know that when you and your dog gaze into each other’s eyes it’s good for both of you? According to a study published on ScienceMag.org, experts found that mutual gazing increased levels of oxytocin (a.k.a. the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone”) in both human and canine.
Other dog games you won’t want to miss
The following dog games are classics that you can play with your dog. They need little explanation, but they are definitely worth playing. No list of dog games would be complete without ’em!
We’ve included a variety of indoor dog games and outdoor dog games that help your devoted dog practice impulse control, get physical exercise, and enjoy mental stimulation.
9. Playing Tug
Of course, you’re familiar with playing tug. But I’ve found that this game is ideal for our two dogs to play with each other. It’s important to add this disclaimer: your dogs must first play nicely with each other. If they’re not besties, then this is not the game for them. And of course, you should always supervise your dogs while they are playing.
The Kong wubba comet dog toy in the photo above has given these two pups endless hours of fun. It’s durable and has stood up to their tugs, for sure!
10. Obstacle Course
Set up an indoor obstacle course using everyday items you have around the house. For example, you can use couch pillows for your dog to jump over or a chair for your dog to crawl under.
Playing frisbee is great exercise for dogs and offers them a way to practice their natural drive to chase.
There are a variety of frisbees, in all different types of materials, to choose from. I would not recommend plastic or hard frisbees as they could hurt your dog. Chloe loves the Kong flyer in the photo above and the Chuck-it! flying squirrel that she’s married to in the photo below. They are both flexible and soft, yet strong and durable. I do keep these two toys in the toy box when we’re not playing so that she doesn’t chomp on them endlessly.
If your dog has played fetch, then frisbee is an extension of the same concept. If your pup is new to frisbee, make sure that you start by letting your dog sniff and get excited over the frisbee. You can even roll it on the ground first. Then start by throwing it just a short distance. This will help your dog be successful.
Also, give plenty of verbal praise (i.e. celebrate like you’ve won the lottery) when your dog returns it back to you.
12. Kong Toy Treats
Stuffing a Kong toy isn’t really a game you can play with your canine companion, but it’s such a hit with Chloe and Little Bear that it makes my list. Treat-filled Kong or other food-dispensing toys are great for your dog’s problem-solving skills. We have four of the classic red Kong toys so that we always have some in the freezer ready to go when the doggos need a frozen treat.
13. Dog games that aren’t “games” but still fun for your dog
When it comes to having fun with you, your dog doesn’t care whether a dog game is a true “game” or not. If you’re searching for more ideas, check out my list of 29 things to do with your dog. It’s packed full of dog-friendly ideas so you and your dog can enjoy even more fun together times.
While this dog game is last on this list, it is definitely first in Chloe’s book. For dogs who love to retrieve, playing fetch is a must. Plus, for all dogs, it is an easy way for them to get physical exercise.
You and your dog make a great team! We hope some of these dog games are a hit with you and your dog. Most of all, we hope that you enjoy a lifetime of love and happiness with your furry pal by your side.
What games do you play with your dog?
Please comment below.