Fun games to promote bonding with your dog

Fun games to promote bonding with your dog

Whether or not you’re a new pet parent, it’s important to make time to actively bond with your dog. Depending on your dog’s preferences, this may mean hiking, brushing, snuggling, or playing games that give them both mental and physical exercise. This article will explain:

  • How to play 2 Ball Fetch, The Muffin Tin Game, Hide and Seek and The Mouse Game
  • What other pet parents are asking about bonding with their dog

4 games that can help strengthen the bond between you and your dog

2 Ball Fetch

Playing fetch with your dog is great mental and physical exercise, and can also help build your dog’s impulse control. To make sure they’re safe, always play in a fenced in yard and only move to an open space if your dog reliably comes when called. To play two ball fetch:

  1. Grab two identical balls and head to a fenced in area
  2. Show one ball to your dog, say “Fetch” and throw the ball
  3. After your dog picks up the ball, run in the opposite direction and make silly noises. The goal is for you to seem interesting enough that your dog will want to run back to you
  4. When your dog arrives back, shower them with praise and show them the second ball.  Squeak the ball and make it seem really awesome; you want your dog to drop the ball in their mouth
  5. Immediately after your dog drops the ball, say “Sit” and wait for your dog to sit. This will help teach them impulse control
  6. After your dog gets into the sit position, say “Fetch” and toss the second ball
  7. While your dog is running after the second ball, pick up the first ball from the ground
  8. Repeat this game of two ball fetch as long as you and your dog are having fun!

Muffin Tin Game

The Muffin Tin Game is a do-it-yourself (DIY) game that uses a muffin pan, kibble or small treats, and tennis balls to create a mentally enriching experience for your dog. The goal of the game is for your dog to use their sniffing and problem solving skills to find all of the kibble. To play the game:

  1. Grab the necessary supplies. You’ll need a muffin tin, tennis balls, kibble or small treats. If there are 8 holes in your muffin tin, grab 8 tennis balls. You’ll cover each hole with a tennis ball.
  2. Set-up the game. Drop a treat or 1-3 pieces of kibble in each muffin hole, and cover each hole with a tennis ball.
  3. Place the muffin tin on the floor. Once all the muffin holes are covered, place the muffin tin on the floor, call your dog over and let them get to work finding their reward!

Hide and Seek

Being able to call your dog away from a thing or situation that’s dangerous, is a crucial skill and could potentially save your dog’s life. Thankfully you can play a game to help you practice your dog’s recall! Hide and Seek is a fun game to teach your dog to come. Here’s how to play:

  1. Invite a friend over and ask them to hold your dog on one side of the room. Use a leash if your dog isn’t totally comfortable being handled.
  2. You grab a treat or your dog’s favorite toy, show it to your dog, and then run and hide.
  3. Once you’ve found your hiding spot, yell “Come!” and have your friend release your dog.
  4. When your dog finds you, give them their treat or toy and shower them with praise. You want your dog to think, “When I respond to ‘Come’, good things happen!”

Pro tip: To make sure your dog doesn’t get frustrated, choose easy hiding spots at first. Once your dog gets the hang of the game, and they have more reliable recall, you can make things more challenging by hiding in less obvious places!

Mouse Game

The Mouse Game is a great game to help your dog focus, and it can be especially helpful to build confidence and encourage playfulness in dogs that are fearful or nervous. To play the game:

  1. Show your dog a treat and then make a fist with your hand around the treat
  2. Bring your hand down to the ground
  3. Move your hand back and forth, and then flick the treat so that your dog has to chase it. To keep your dog on their toes, flick the treat in a different direction each time!

Frequently asked questions about using games to promote a bond between you and your dog

How can I strengthen the bond between my dog and I?

Playing games, going on walks, snuggling, practicing dog training exercises, brushing, and even giving your dog space when they need it are all great ways to bond with your dog.

How do you tell a dog is attached to you?

If your dog wags their tail, looks at you with “soft eyes” (a warm, sometimes squinty look), wants to sit close to you, or has a loose wiggly body in your presence, then they likely love and feel attached to you.