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Exploring Greensboro's Pet Sitting Magic: Engaging Games for Dogs

Need some engaging games to help your new puppy become a very good dog? Or does your older pup need a training refresher?

Engaging games for dogs

Meet Mac, the charming troublemaker who's a good dog- SOMETIMES! He has never had formal training other than a few puppy classes when he was a little guy. He knows the basics but sometimes he needs a refresher or just some fun ways to engage and learn. Whether your pet companion is a young pup or a wise old companion, we've got the perfect games to keep them entertained and learning.

Game #1 - The Name Game: Engaging in New Environments

All our dogs know their names, right? What about about while they're exploring new places (or at the dreaded vet)? The Name Game is especially good in a new environment with unfamiliar smells or sounds. Simply say your dog’s name and when he looks at you, give him a yummy cookie. You can repeat this several times but specifically until you have your dog's attention and he is consistently connected.

Game #2 - Give: Trading for Treats!

Picture this: your dog picks up something undesirable during a leisurely walk in Greensboro such as...(I can insert many words here for Mac's found treasures such as gum, chicken wings, and other less pleasant items). Dogs are opportunists by nature so you can count on your dog picking up something they shouldn’t at some point in their life. Fear not! The Give Game is your solution.

Start with your dog on a leash or in a small room where he can’t run away to avoid the catch-me-if-you-can scenario. Toss one of his favorite toys on the floor and when he picks it up, call him to you or reel him in on his leash gently. Take one hand and hold onto the toy and cue him to “Give” the toy to you. With your other hand present a treat to trade him for the toy. When he gives the toy, immediately praise him and give him the treat. Practice this as often as possible with toys and other items your dog may pick up - always remember whatever you trade with must be more enticing than the item in the dog’s mouth. To challenge his understanding of this game, give the cue and wait for the response before you bring out the cookie for a reward. Every dog can learn this!

Game #3 - The Treat Game: Bowls of Joy

This is an easy, entertaining game and you can raid that drawer full of random containers for supplies. Find some that nest inside each other. The bowls should either be the same size or ones that decrease in size (go from larger to smaller). Place a treat in the bottom container, then place the second container on top. Continue layering treats and containers. Include one treat in the top, open container to get your dog started. Be sure to do this under supervision so your dog does not try to eat the plastic containers (Mac needs lots of supervision). You can increase difficulty with additional containers, turning treat time into a mentally stimulating challenge.

Game #4 - Look at Me

This game was the first one I ever taught Mac. Even when he is at his most distracted, he turns to me when I say "Look at Me" (even if just for a nanosecond!). 'Look at Me" teaches your dog to give you eye contact. Hold a treat near your eye and ask your dog to look at you. Gradually phase out the treat and soon your pup will respond to a hand signal and verbal command. This fundamental behavior not only captivates distracted pups but also triggers a release of oxytocin (a hormone for attachment) in both you and your dog. Scientists call these “eye hugs.”

Remember, mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise to have a happy, healthy and engaged pup. Mac may have his favorites but the real fun lies in discovering which games your dog enjoys the most.

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