Once you get a puppy home, it doesn’t take long to discover that he’s a whirlwind of energy, and dealing with his curiosity and playfulness is no easy task. Playing learning games with your puppy can help him bond with you, work off some of that boundless energy, stimulate his mind and teach him some basic commands. It’s also a good way to learn who your new puppy is as an individual.
A puppy’s education should begin the day you bring him home. Playing games gives your pup physical and mental exercise, as well as the opportunity for positive and fun interaction with you. Learning games can also help curb destructive behavior while your puppy discovers how you want him to behave. Teaching your pup basic commands gives him a solid foundation to build on so he’s ready for more challenging commands when he’s older. Reward him with CANIDAE PURE training treats, lots of positive praise and patience. Here are six learning games:
Create a circle with family and friends sitting on the floor. Make sure everyone has a supply of treats. Put the puppy in the middle of the circle and take turns calling him to come. When he does, give him a treat, praise and ear scratching. Don’t get too rough with him so he doesn’t get overly excited. This is a good way to teach your puppy the come/recall command, as well as work on socialization.
Hide & Seek
Have someone hold your pup while you hide. Call him to come and wait for him to find you. This is another good learning game that teaches your pet to come when called and gives him a chance to try out his powerful scenting ability. Puppies enjoy a good search, and you can hide his favorite toy or treats around the house while teaching him to “go find.” If he has trouble finding what you hid, help him out so he doesn’t become frustrated. It’s important when training to make sure your dog “wins” once in a while so he’s successful at doing what you ask. When you first teach your pup this game, don’t make it too difficult for him to find you. You can up the ante as he gets better at the game.
This is a good game that wears down your pup and teaches him focus. It’s also a good way to introduce him to the commands “take it” and “drop it.” Encourage your pup to grab an appropriate toy for playing tug-of-war, then hold up a treat as he pulls and shakes the toy, and say drop it. Give him the treat when he releases his grip on the toy. Keep in mind that puppy joints are still developing and puppy teeth are sharp – so don’t get too carried away. If your pup becomes overstimulated or aggressive, stop the game and walk away with the toy. By abruptly ending the activity, your puppy learns that playtime continues only when he’s not being aggressive. If he continues the unwanted behavior, it’s best to find other games to play with him, and talk to your vet about his aggressive behavior.
Pick a soft toy or ball that is large enough your pup can’t swallow it. (Avoid using sticks to play fetch, because they can damage a puppy’s mouth). Ask your pup to sit and stay, then toss the toy a short distance away. The “get it” command is his cue to fetch. Call him back to you with “bring it,” and ask him to “drop it” in your hand or at your feet. Now that’s a lot of commands for a puppy to learn, so be patient and consistent, and give treats and plenty of praise for each command he performs. He’ll get the hang of the game, and learn some lifesaving commands in the process.
Puppies are very capable of learning the names of common items around the house, as well as names of other pets and human family members. Stimulating the mind is also exercising it, and helps your pup work off some energy.
Teaching your puppy tricks helps him learn to focus on you. Simple tricks include learning basic commands all dogs should know. When he knows sit, come, stay and down, then he’s ready to learn more complicated tricks like roll over, turn around and play dead.
Keep play sessions to around 10 minutes to avoid overstimulating your pup. Canines young and old love to play with their owner; learning games help you teach your puppy basic commands, show him how you want him to behave, help him learn to focus on you, and most importantly – form a close and strong bond.
Read more articles by Linda Cole