They say a tired dog is a good dog, and at no time is this more true than when you’re dealing with a puppy––a little furball of energy who requires constant care and attention or will likely be chewing up a shoe (or two) as soon as you turn around. So what’s a pet parent to do? These puppy games will not only tire your pup out, they’ll also stimulate his brain and force him to utilize his doggy senses.
1. Walking and Wagging
There’s nothing better than a casual stroll around town with your furry friend. For your puppy everything is new and undiscovered, so let him explore and take the time to sniff it out. This is a great time to start working on commands like sit and stay, and to encourage positive socialization with humans (puppies to tend to attract a lot of attention and smiles). Keep walks to five minutes per month of age (10-minute walk for a two-month-old puppy), and avoid running until the puppy is older and his joints are more mature
Have a friend hold your puppy while you go hide. Call out and let him hunt you down and watch that tail go crazy when he does. Your new best friend is a fast learner, and you can up the ante by hiding toys or treats. As an added bonus, use the word “come” and the game doubles as a teaching tool.
3. Mind Games
Your puppy is a little sponge just waiting to soak up information on how to please you. Use this to your advantage and play some mind games, such as teaching him words to common items (like “ball,” “toy,” “chair,” etc.), or more creative tricks, like teaching him to bring you the newspaper or the remote. These games are excellent building blocks for future training, and exercising your puppy’s mind is one of the easiest ways to get him to settle down.
4. The Muffin Tin Game
Take a standard 12-cup muffin tin and put treats in every cup (you may want to use something healthy as a treat, such as blueberries, since you’re putting out so many). Cover up three or more of the cups with tennis balls, and then sit back and watch as your pup is forced to figure out how to get all the treats out––hidden and otherwise. As he gets better at the game, start covering up more cups and making him work harder to get all the treats.
If you have kids this is a great game for them to play with your puppy, since it’ll tire them out as well! Get your puppy excited by dancing, running, and jumping around, and then stop what you’re doing and command him to freeze. It may take him a little while to catch on that he’s supposed to stop moving too, so make sure to reward him as soon as he does. Not only does this game help expel some of that extra puppy energy, it’s an excellent tool for other situations where your little guy may feel overwhelmed by the chaos around him.
Playing with your puppy encourages brain development., promotes bonding, and uses up some much-needed energy––it’s one of the best ways to ensure your furball turns into a well-behaved adult. Get out there and play, your pup will thank you for it!