Did you ever throw your dog away? No? Why not? Dogs love playing this game and you don’t need anything but you and your dog to play. And it gets your dog to run toward you. A “Come!” without training!
We have a feeling that people don’t know how to play with their dogs without “stuff.” We see it in our training classes, particularly puppy class, all the time. It’s probably because nobody’s advertising the fun you can have with your dog without toys, props, or equipment. As dogs are accepted as members of the family, they’re also targets of merchandising.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re just as likely to check out the latest innovations in dog toys as anybody. Probably more so, since we’re always looking for really unique, well-made items for our shop. But we also know that you don’t actually need anything to play with your dog.
Throw your dog away
The absolute, sure-fire, fun game almost every puppy and dog on the planet love is “Throw your dog away.” With your palm, you just gently shove your dog in the chest to move him/her back an inch or two. At first, most dogs seem a little surprised. But they quickly get into the game. Especially if you’re teasing them: “I don’t want you.” “Get away, silly beastie!” “What are you doing here? Didn’t I throw you away?”
Almost 100 percent of dogs will crouch back on their haunches, then stick their butts in the air in a classic play-bow, and come bounding back to you for more. They love this game. And it’s fun to see the dogs, and their people, grinning as they learn the game and love playing it. Just this week we got to see the biggest grin on the face of both owner and dog and a year-old Standard Poodle got “thrown away” and learned his mom is actually fun!
Another great game with minimal stuff is tug. A few years ago there were all kinds of experts telling people not to play tug with their dogs. It went along with making sure you go through a door first, or not letting dogs on furniture. All nonsense, to us. Tug is a great game. When we hear people say “my dog won’t tug,” we show them how. Slowly drag your tug object back and forth in front of your dog’s paws. If your dog is just staring at it, make sure you drag it across their paws. Be annoying and engage your dog’s prey drive. It’s the same thing puppies do to get older dogs to play with them – be annoying.
We particularly like tug because it’s a workout for your dog’s core and legs, and they can’t play it alone. Simon tries – stepping on the tug toy and reaching back as far as his neck will go. But it doesn’t work too well – he’d rather play with his mom.
Boop your dog
Another silly little game we play with our dogs is “nose button.” It doesn’t really have a name, but it’s fun and engaging and makes us and our dogs happy. When we touch (boop) our dog’s noses, they lick. So we call it the nose button game. When they don’t lick, we make a whole production out of their button being busted. And push it some more to “fix” it.
The point of all of this is to have more fun with your dog. Henry Ward Beecher’s quote “The dog is the god of frolic.” We have no idea who he was, or what he was famous for, but he was right about this. You got a dog for fun and companionship. Have more fun with your dog!
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