Seven games dogs just love to play
-- by Renée Alexandrea
Have you ever wonder why some dogs seem to be so happy and playful even up to their twilight years?
The answer is not far from reach. If your dog is given an environment that arouses his curiosity yet not over stimulating, chances are you’ll have a very happy, healthy and emotionally stable dog.
I’m not talking about throwing some dog toys for him to self-entertain, and thinking that he’ll be so indebted to you. On the contrary, you’re doing injustice to his creativity to play.
One of the best ways to nurture dog’s creativity is to create games around things that dogs just naturally love to do.
Here are seven fun activities for you and your dog to enjoy for hours:
Digging and Burying --- A descend from wolves, most domesticated dogs will still have the ancient urge to bury bones, food dishes, or your slippers to show how much they value these things. You can create false earth for hygiene purpose—children sand pit or inflatable children pool filled with sand.
Tip 1.1—Show your dog his toy and let him watch you bury it. Then say to him ‘Bury’ as you cover it up. Praise him when he digs it up, and then let him have his turn to bury it. Terriers by nature love to dig, but they’re in no means to bury anything.
Wrestling –-- Since young, puppies have this natural ability to wrestle. They do so as to develop strength and agility, to show affection, to be first in line for food, or simply to let off stream. Every dog has his own personality; some enjoy a good ‘rough’ play while others are too shy to rough it out with you. Just respect their decision.
Tip 2.1—Start gradually, with gentle pushes and lunges. Say ‘Wrestle!’ Remember to keep the game gentle as you don’t want to excite the dog too much. Don’t cut off the game abruptly.
Rolling over --– When dogs rollover, exposing their tummies, it’s a part of their declaration of love for you. Your dog is saying “I trust you” and would appreciate a tummy rub.
Tip 3.1—To encourage your dog to rollover on command, say ‘Roll’ when he does. Give him a good tummy rub. Keep it short for a start, and when he gets quicker on command, then you give a good tummy rub with aromatherapy oil for his extra effort.
Play Bowing --– You’ll notice this gesture when your dog is inviting you or his canine friend to play.
4.1—To encourage your dog to play-bowing on command, say ‘Bow!’ when he does. And if he doesn’t gently push his front down and hold up his rear, saying ‘Bow!’ It may be quite difficult to train, but if you catch him doing this act, it’s the best time to start lesson one.
Shaking hands --– Holding out a paw is a natural gesture of submission for dogs. And teaching a dog to shake hands is pretty easy. This is also a good training for grooming time-nail clipping.
Tip 5.1—Be on the same level with your dog, say ‘Paw!’ as you outstretch you hand. As he raises his paw, gently grasp it and shake. You may want to treat him if he quickly lands his paw onto your palm instead of raising it up.
Jumping --– Most dogs have very nimble bodies, they’re capable to jump at a great height if there’s a reward (food) at the higher end. This is something that should be discouraged as it a form of food begging. However a more constructive way to play is using hurdles.
Tip 6.1—For a beginner, use rollup wrapping paper as the hurdle. Support it with two baby stools at both ends. As your dog gains more accomplishment, increase the height. This game is unsuitable for growing puppies as their bones are still very fragile.
Hide-and-Seek --– If dogs have middle name, Sherlock Holmes will be it. Dogs just love to find things, especially you. They can play this game for hours with allies or enemies alike. They also love to be found.
Tip 7.1 -- Tell your dog to sit-stay. Then find a great hiding place. Once you’re away from his view, call out his name for him to come to look for you. Increase the repetitions of his name if he gets farther away. A treat must be given when he finds you. This game is best played on familiar grounds with limited to no distraction, definitely a no-no in a crowded park.
So what are you waiting for? You don’t need your dog to fetch you those smelling slippers to get you off your couch!
Copyright 2004 Renée Alexandrea
Renée Alexandrea—a former show-dog handler, an ex-volunteer at animal shelters; but an active dog lover for almost four decades. She lives in Singapore with her five ever-devilish Maltese and with the exception of her two Golden Retrievers in Los Angeles.
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