Dog with Tennis Ball

Every dog and puppy knows that daily exercise and mental stimulation are the key to a happy canine existence. Regular play is essential for your dog's physical and mental development and health. It is also a great way to channel his energy into something constructive and prevent destructive behaviour. Here are some ideas for outdoor and indoor fun you can try with your best friend.  

1.The Which Hand Game

This game is great for dogs and puppies that aren't familiar with scent-based activities. Canines naturally have an excellent sense of smell but this doesn't mean they don't need the practice, too. The only thing you will need for this activity are a few small dog treats (You can always work with pieces of kibble or make your own treats). Take a treat in one hand and keep your fists closed in front of your dog. When he sniffs or touches the correct hand, reward him with the treat. It may take a few tries for him to succeed, but it pays to be patient.

2. The Three Cup Game

Another great opportunity for some “nose work”. This game is a little more evolved, so you can give it a try after your doggie has mastered the “which hand game”. Take three cups and place them in a row in front of your dog. Hide a small treat under one of the cups and let him see what you did. When he sniffs or touches the correct cup praise him and let him have the treat. As with the previous activity, practice makes perferct. After a while, you can make the game more challenging by mixing the cups with the treat hidden under one of them. 

3. Hide and Seek

Your pooch will enjoy this game as much as children usually do. Before you play outside, practice in the house a bit. Hide in a room holding a treat inside a small container or cup. Rattle it while you call your dog to come and claim it. Keep doing this around the house and don't forget to praise him every time. Playing hide and seek outside will be more fun when two people are involved. Have a friend distract your dog while you go and hide somewhere nearby. Rattle the treat and call your dog's name. When he discovers you, reward him with the treat. Next, switch places with your friend for another round. Keep the game challenging and gradually start calling his name without using a treat.

Dog Hiding Under Blanket
Credit: "Hiding Dog" by LuKaS Cuba on, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

4. Obstacle Course

This is a really fun way for energetic dogs to test their agility. You can make your very own obstacle course in your backyard using simple secondhand items. It might be a good idea to attend a gym class with your dog in order to learn about the standard equipment of the course, the safety measures required and so on. For the indoors version of this activity, you can use towels,blankets or your dogs toys as obstacles. Always make sure that you leave enough space between them, especially for jumps. This game will keep your favourite canine fit, mentally stimulated and focused.

5. Chasing Prey

All canines, even the little ones, are wolves at heart. In order to awaken your dog's inner predator initiate a chasing game. Create a lure using a stuffed animal tied to the end of a rope or a retractable leash. Use it to imitate the movements of a live animal. Your beloved canine will be thoroughly entertained while chasing his prey around. You can make your dog even more motivated if you use an animal scent on the toy (make sure it is safe for pet use). This game is bound to turn even the laziest couch potato into a real hunter.

6. Frisbee Toss

Catching a flying disc mid air can prove to be a challenge for your pet. This game requires serious agility and concentration. For frisbee beginners, the first step is to let your dog become familiar with this new strange object. Throw the frisbee across the ground towards him. After your pooch examines it, he will probably grab it in his mouth. From here onward you can start practising in small steps. Roll the frisbee on the ground, then try to toss it a bit higher and a bit further with each attempt. This game might not appeal to all, but then again, you may discover the next frisbee champion!

Dog With Frisbee
Credit: Photo by James Lee on, licensed under CC0 (public domain)

7. Water Hose

You and your dog can play a fun chasing game in your garden using the water hose. Your dog will love chasing the jet of water around. Just make sure you don't use high pressure for safety reasons. Also. remember to avoid projecting the water near your pet's face and always keep a good distance from your dog. This game is exciting but obviously not for everyone. Some dogs may not like water at all while others could become obsessed with the jet of water. If, however, your beloved canine doesn't mind getting wet while having fun, you might as well take advantage of the situation and give him a bath!

8. Bubble Fun

Blowing bubbles is a pointless and fun activity from our childhood. It is not hard to imagine that pets like cats and dogs are often interested in bubbles as well. When you think about it, these trully fascinating and fragile spheres could look like moving prey to them. Produce some bubbles and your favourite canine will surely enjoy chasing after them. Remember that you should always use pet safe bubble mix for this game. After a while it is a good idea to switch to another activity, for example play with a toy, so that your dog can actually grab something and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Dog Chasing Bubbles
Credit: Photo by 825545 on, licensed under CC0 (public domain)

9. Call the Toys Names

Every dog has a couple of toys he really loves. Pick out two of them and give each a name. Remember to keep the names really simple like “cat”, for instance. Throw one of the toys and call its name at the same time, so that your dog can fetch it. Repeat the process several times and then do the same with the second toy you picked. Now for the next stage of the game. Place both toys next to each other and ask him to fetch one of them. Remember to praise and reward him with healthy treats when he chooses the correct toy. In time, you might be able to introduce new objects and words to the game and enrich his vocabulary.

10.Tug of War

This is a fairly simple and extremely popular game. Tug of war can be very beneficial for your dog provided it is played correctly. It is great exercise for both you and your canine buddie and it provides opportunities for teaching disipline. For instance, you can teach him to grab or release the rope on your command. Before engaging in a game of tug, it is paramount that you and your best friend have a healthy relationship based on trust and respect. This activity can help him channel his aggression as long as you have established some play rules and you are consistent. Don't forget to let your pooch win occasionally!