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Natural Awakenings San Diego

The Top 10 Reasons for Playing Games with Your Dog

Dec 28, 2011 01:45PM ● By Lori Friesen

Although many pet owners take the time to teach their dogs the basics of obedience training and a few tricks, it can be easy to overlook your dog’s natural need for mental stimulation and intellectual challenges. This is especially true when the weather may not be ideal for taking your dog out for long walks and exercise outdoors. However, not providing outlets for your dog’s natural needs can result in unwanted destructive behavior around your home. Here are the top ten reasons for spending just five to 10 minutes each day playing games with your dog and offering your dog simple, fun intellectual challenges:

10 Playing games with your dog is not only fun for you and your dog when it’s raining or too cold outside, but like children in this way, spending quality time together deepens your bond with your pet. Playing dog games as a family can be an entertaining and inexpensive way to spend the evening!

9 Your dog needs exercise. But let’s face it—sometimes going for a walk feels like going on the treadmill, or becomes one more item on your to-do list that you just don’t get to and then feel guilty about it. Indoor games can be a fun alternative or supplement to your dog’s regular walk.

8 Your dog can get needed mental stimulation by playing games and engaging in challenges in the comfort of your own home.

7 Chewing on your shoes will become far less appealing when there is something a lot more fun to do! Offering intellectual challenges for your dog can help to prevent a lot of unwanted behaviors by alleviating boredom.

6 Your dog will make you laugh when you play games and offer him or her achievable intellectual challenges—and you will learn a lot about your dog’s unique personality, preferences, and talents. Yes, your dog has yet undiscovered special talents.

5 Seriously, your dog will make you laugh your head off!

Your dog will enjoy increased self-confidence and a strengthened bond with you by succeeding at small, increasingly difficult challenges with your help and gentle guidance. Nervous or anxious dogs who are fearful of thunderstorms, fireworks, or other loud noises, can particularly benefit by playing games. This can help your dog to learn to re-associate once-scary experiences with fun, positive times with you. 

3 If you live in a condo or an urban center, it’s hard to give your dog the exercise needed because large spaces to run and play in may not be available. Play games in your very own living room.

2 Games can give your dog an outlet for his or her natural needs: digging, chewing, shaking, searching, investigating, and dissecting ‘prey’.

But the #1 reason why you should play games at home with your dog?

1 Your dog will thank you, thank you, thank you for it.

Lori Friesen is the author of a new eBook and DVD series, My Doggy Genius: Over 50 Awesome At-Home Dog Games & Challenges, a veterinarian and dog-trainer approved resource that features games (not tricks!) for pet owners. A PhD candidate at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, her doctoral research explored  animal-assisted literacy with children.

For more information or to order the eBook or DVD, visit


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