When people and dogs play with each other, both parties benefit because of the bond it creates. Playing with your dog also creates a better-adjusted pet, because boredom is one reason for many dog behavioral problems, such as excessive barking or digging. It is easy to think of games to play outdoors, like fetching sticks and balls, playing Frisbee, or swimming at the lake. When the weather is bad, though, you can play indoor games and still have fun with your dog.
This is great game for combining obedience training with play. Assuming your dog already knows some basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “leave it,” “down,” and “roll over," spend about 20 minutes alternating the different commands your dog knows and reinforcing with a treat, if you like. Give your commands from various positions, too, instead of just standing in front of your dog. Sit down and give a command, turn your back and give one or even lie down to give a command.
Tug of War
To play tug of war, always use one particular rope toy. Never use the leash or your sock, for example. When you want to play, start the game by saying, “Play tug." Your dog will grab the other end of the toy and both of you will be tugging. When you want to, tell your dog to drop it. When your dog does drop the toy, reward with a treat. Pick up the toy again for another round. If your dog won’t let go when you say “drop it,” then walk away. Ignore your dog until he has dropped the toy and is behaving himself. Then, you can initiate the game again. If your dog never learned the command “drop it,” you can teach this command by giving your dog a big toy and then offer a treat if he drops the toy. Say, “Drop it,” while you are holding the treat in your hand. Despite what trainers, such as Kilcommons, say about tug of war causing your dog to achieve dominance over you, other studies by Rooney and Bradshaw, for example, show that this is not the case, especially if you approach this game properly.
Toy in the Bucket
Gather some toys and a bucket and scatter the toys on the floor. Coax your dog to pick up a toy. As soon as she does, get your dog to trade the toy for a treat. Every time the dog gives you a toy, you put the toy in the bucket. The goal is to get your dog to start putting the toys directly in the bucket. To do this, after your dog has gotten the idea of receiving a treat for giving you the toy, stop treating until your dog gets near the bucket.