Topics covered in this article:
Benefits of Playing Dog Games and Exercising with your Dog
9 Dog Games to Play with Your Dog
How Bravecto® helps keep your dog healthy for adventures, play and exercise
Activities you can do with your dog on Freedom Day
All you need to know about Dog Yoga
Your Dog and Mental Health
How to mentally stimulate your Dog
What about when your dog is home alone?
Indoor Dog Games
Dog Games – Exercise with Your Dog This World Health Day
With World Health Day on the 7th of April, we’ve been thinking about what this “picture of health” entails, besides protecting your dog from ticks and fleas. At Bravecto®, we aim to extend the picture of health. Being and staying healthy is all about maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle. Not just when celebrating World Health Day, but as an overall lifestyle choice. Nothing looks better than a happy dog. So, we’ve compiled a list of fun dog games that will improve you and your dog’s health and allow you to spend some quality time together. Bravecto® protects your dog from ticks and fleas, allowing them to live their best life – now it’s time to live it.
Dog Games and Exercising with Your Dog
Making time for play and exercise should be a part of you and your dog’s daily routine. Like feeding and daily walks, you should schedule playtime and exercise. Playtime with your dog isn’t just about letting your dog run free and letting go of leashes and inhibitions alike but improving social, physical and mental health. For your dog, however, it’s all about fun!
The Benefits of Dog Games and Exercise with Your Dog
There are a range of benefits when your dog plays certain games. Playing games with your dog can build stronger relationships between the participants. Because all games have rules, this also improves their discipline. Exercising with your dog is known to provide mental and physical stimulation for both you and your dog. While you’re having fun, games also teach your dog obedience. Exercise and games for your dog act as an outlet for energy: dogs that play games are more stable and calmer than those who do not. If owners do not initiate healthy and positive ways of play and exercise for dogs, they will find an alternative way which will most likely involve bad behaviour.
With Bravecto®, you extend a fast-acting tick and flea treatment for more time together. It’s what you do with that time, that’s important. At Bravecto®, we believe that this time should be used for fun, bonding, making memories and living in the moment. You don’t have to wait until World Health Day to start having fun and getting healthy, but it’s a great place to start! Following is a list of dog games to play that are great for keeping you and your dog healthy and happy.
Dog games for a healthier and happier dog
Dog Game One: Active Fetch
Everyone loves the classic ‘go-fetch’ dog game, right? But, why not put a twist to it this World Health Day? Playing fetch shouldn’t just be active for your dog. Why not run with your dog when he goes after the ball? This way, both you and your dog can get some exercise. Your dog will also love the idea of having his favourite human running by his side.
Sometimes, using a stick can cause lacerations in a dog’s mouth when playing fetch. So, it might be a good idea to introduce alternative items to play fetch with. Try a rubber toy stick or a softball.
My Dog can’t play fetch.
Dog Game Two: Bubbles
Toddlers aren’t the only ones who love bubbles. Chasing bubbles is one of the easiest, fun games that dogs enjoy playing. Chasing bubbles is almost at the top of our list for backyard ideas for dogs. It resembles predatory behaviour for dogs and encourages them to channel their instincts. By blowing bubbles, your dog is intrigued all the while being entertained. Remember to make sure the bubbles you use are dog-friendly and non-toxic.
Dog Game Three: Tug of War
Some might argue that tug of war is risky or that it stimulates aggressive behaviour. Though some signs might suggest that the game brings out the predator in your dog, this is only half true. If you and your dog have a healthy relationship from the get-go, you’ll be able to have control over your dog’s behaviour. A good balance between an active game and a somewhat aggressive game is good for your dog. They’ll need this balance to be the best dog they could be! Playing tug of war is a great confidence builder for your dog, as well as an awesome form of exercise.
Dog Game Four: Water Games
As you’ve probably seen, dogs love to run and chase water. A simple sprinkler can keep them entertained for hours! Celebrate World Health Day with some water fun. If your dog loves water, you don’t have to travel far to have fun; just make use of sprinklers, hosepipes, kiddies pools etc. You could even visit your nearest dam or river.
Most dogs aren’t too excited for bath time, so try and kill two birds with one stone when it comes to cleaning time. Why not introduce some dog toys in the water? You could even take bath time outside using a kiddie pool or bucket, permitted your dog is well-behaved.
*Considering the various drought-stricken areas in South Africa, please only play dog games that involve water if you are in an area without water restrictions.
Dog Game Five: Dog Soccer
Playing soccer with your dog is a brilliant form of exercise. Dogs love ball sports and ball games. Start by simply kicking a ball around, and your dog will follow. It’s a great way for you and your dog to bond while getting some much-needed leisurely exercise. Soon, you’ll be bending it like Beckham and teaching your dog new tricks!
Dog Game Six: Park Run
This year World Health Day happens to fall on a Saturday. If it’s a sunny Saturday, consider celebrating World Health Day by going on a Park Run. Most park runs in South Africa allow dogs to join in on the 5km run. Certain rules do apply though, and some park runs request that there is only one dog per registered runner. Your dog will love a committed run with you by their side and will push you to keep going as well. Remember to understand your dog’s limits and when you’re pushing it too far or not hard enough. If you decide on taking part in the run with your dog, remember to take along some water for them too!
Dog Game Seven: Flying Disc
A Game of Frisbee is a fun way to improve your dog’s agility, stamina and to get some exercise. Make sure the frisbees you’re playing with are soft, and your dog doesn’t have any pre-disposed chances of getting a knee injury. Find a nice open area where you can throw the frisbee far enough without breaking anything or accidentally hitting somebody with the frisbee while having a blast with your bud!
Dog Game Eight: Hide and seek
Playing hide and seek can be great fun for you and your furry friend, as long as you are in a safe environment. If you prefer keeping an eye on your pup, hide one of his favourite toys, and allow him to retrieve it. If your dog isn’t already familiar with the ‘stay’ command, this is a great way to start teaching it. Command them to ‘’stay” and as soon as you’ve found a spot to hide, or you’ve hidden the toy, give them the go-ahead to either follow your voice or follow the scent of their favourite toy. Be sure to praise them when they’ve found the hidden ‘treasure’ with either a treat or whole lot of love.
*Just like humans, all dogs are different. Not all dogs are going to engage in all sort of play. Their personality likes and dislikes will soon tell you which dog game or type of play they enjoy.
How Bravecto® helps keep your dog healthy for adventures, play and exercise.
Both you and your dog should be able to enjoy activities, adventures, the outdoors and the indoors without having to worry about ticks and fleas. Your dog deserves all the attention, and tick and fleas shouldn’t take away from that. When thinking about dog playdates, hiking, outdoor activities and nature, they all probably spike a sense of mild anxiety and trigger flashes of a tick and flea aftermath in your head. Having fun with your dog and staying healthy shouldn’t be confined because of ticks and fleas are lurking in all the best places. Bravecto® eliminates some of the risks you may associate with play and activities with your dog on Freedom Day. Bravecto® offers fast-acting, continuous and innovative protection, allowing your dog to gain the most powerful defence available in a chew against a tick or flea infestation whether on your pet or in your home ensuring a tick and flea free Freedom Day!
Activities to do with dogs this Freedom Day:
Now that you and your furry bestie have been active with the games listed above, you and your new training partner can now move onto the next level of exercise! Be completely free this Freedom Day; free from ticks and free for fun tricks! There’s an exciting, big world to explore with your pup.
- Conquer the mountains with your pup. Once you reach the top, both you and your dog can enjoy the view and the feeling of accomplishment after a long hike.
- Go for a walk around your neighbourhood.
- Go on a camping trip and explore the great outdoors with adventure around every tree.
- Enjoy a day out at the beach and try Stand-Up Paddleboarding.
- Rent a Kayak and paddle upstream.
- Dog-Friendly Bootcamp
Dog-Friendly South African Camping Spots
Dog Yoga and All You Need to Know About it:
Have you heard of ‘Dog yoga’? Dog yoga, more commonly known as ‘Doga’ is gaining popularity within the dog owner community and yoga community alike. Dog yoga isn’t necessarily about teaching your dog how to master yoga poses but is a fun and unique way to engage with your dog during normal yoga classes.
Yogic Breathing is known to have a calming and soothing effect on a dog’s central nervous system, and although you can’t always initiate your dog to stay Zen and focus on their breathing, dogs can pick up on the emotional state of their owners. Dogs pick up on their owner’s anxiety, thus joining you to your weekly yoga sessions is a new way of allowing your dog to relax and destress, as your dog picks up on your calm mood and controlled breathing.
If you aren’t too keen on joining a dog yoga class just yet; or your dog isn’t the best fit for the job, you can incorporate yoga poses into playtime and daily walks. Take some time during playtime to do some yoga stretches and see how your dog engages.
Your Dog and Mental Health
Making sure your dog is healthy goes beyond just the physical. Stimulating your dog’s mind and challenging them to learn and try new things are key elements of overall health, happiness and longevity.
Although going for daily walks is a great way to bond with your dog, ‘playtime’ which isn’t just about ‘play’ at all, can be a great opportunity to incorporate a positive learning experience. During all activities and dog games, you should aim at adding mental stimulation. World Health Day should not only remind us of physically staying fit but also allow us to consider mental health. It isn’t necessary to delve deep into the psyche of your dog, but it is important to keep your dog’s mind active as well. Mental health is just as important for your canine as it is to humans, as poor mental health could lead to a disinterest to eat, play, get out of bed or engage in any daily activities. Here are a few ways to exercise your dog’s mind and boost mental stimulation:
How to mentally stimulate your dog?
- Sense of smell: Track things by using nose. Stimulating their nose brings out instinctual nature. Just because it’s not Easter anymore doesn’t mean you need to stop with the scavenger hunts. Continue to hide treats and scented toys for your dog to dig out.
- A dog’s world: Try to imagine what an ideal activity would be in a dog’s world. Naturally, most dogs love retrieving and chasing. Emphasize your dog’s natural inclination with their natural environment.
- Get creative: You and your dog share a special connection. You’re not only part of their pack; you’re the alpha. When you understand your dog, you’ll start to understand which types of plays they prefer or whether they’re in the mood or not.
- Discipline: It’s not all fun and games. All games have rules and instilling a sense of order and disciplining your dog while playing dog games are key to teaching your dog how to listen to you and follow orders in the future.
How to Deal with an Overexcited Dog.
- New Tricks and Training: Teaching your dog tricks and obedient behaviour isn’t only to improve the life of you as the owner but is a great way to keep your dog’s mind sharp and in top shape. Challenging them will entice them to try new things.
- Explore: There’s a big beautiful world out there, and one of the biggest things your dog wants to do is explore it. Allow them to explore. One of the main ways your dog explores is through their sense of smell and sniffing around. Next time you take your dog for a walk, allow them to sniff around a bit. Take it easy and wait a bit, so your dog gets a sense of their surroundings. While your dog is taking their time to ‘smell the roses’, this is also a great time for you to stop, breathe and take in your surroundings too.
- Interactive Play: Interactive play allows you to connect with your dog. This type of play stimulates your dog mentally as they need to consider their own strength in comparison to yours. Your dog has to hold back and play gently, and as you and your dog play, your dog learns how to understand their own limits as well as yours.
- Dog to Dog Interaction: Interacting with other dogs is a great way to not only physically, but also mentally stimulates your dog. Dog time can boost your dog’s self-esteem and confidence. Dog time is necessary to bring your dog back to their roots and remind them of who they are in the dog world. Spending time with other dogs can also teach your dog how to be more trusting towards other dogs and can decrease a dog’s tendencies to display territorial behaviours. A dog who suffers from minor anxiety issues may also feel safer amongst members of their own species. Just remember, your dog must be up to date on his/her vaccinations including vaccinating against Kennel Cough when on a doggie playdate with other dogs.
Tips to entertain your dog when they’re home alone
You aren’t always at home, and at times it can get pretty lonely for your dog. Your dog’s main source of activity on days like these shouldn’t just be waiting for you to come back. There are, however, a few things you could do that will make the home-alone days a bit better for your dog. Finding ways to keep your dog busy while you are away will decrease the chances of your dog causing mischief or from feeling down and lonely. The ability to self-occupy is also an important skill that your dog should learn how to master to release energy and keep their mind and body busy.
Setting up the K9 to 5
- – Puzzle Toys: Puzzle toys help keep your dog occupied and involves finding a hidden object or treat within the toy. It gives them mental stimulation as your dog figures out how to get the toy or snack by trying different techniques within the toy. There are various puzzle toys on the market, all aiming at keeping your dog busy and stimulated during the day. For dogs who are fast eaters, there are also food puzzle toys available that will allow your dog to put a little bit of extra work into getting their food. Puzzle toys and food puzzle toys might need some getting used to if it’s your dog’s first try, but with some assistance at first, your dog will get the hang of it in no time.
- Hard Chew Toys: Providing your dog with chew toys won’t only keep them busy but is great for your dog’s dental health as well. Chewing on bones and hard chew toys also help remove plaque from your dog’s teeth and tartar build-up which can cause dental problems in the future. The chew toys will relieve boredom and satisfy your dog’s urge to chew on furniture.
- Dog Toys: Make sure you have dog toys around the house that are easily accessible. Dog toys offer a form of occupational therapy.
Best Types of Play for Different Breeds.
Indoor Dog Games for Dogs
Indoor Dog Game One: Scent Scavenger Hunt
To your dog, your house isn’t just a house. It’s an endless maze of twists, corners and a whole lot of secret places to explore. Work with your dog’s natural curiosity and adventurous spirit to create an indoor scavenger hunt. Hide treats or scented toys and allow your dog to search for them! It’s a good way to stimulate their sense of smell and keep them busy, excited and active.
Indoor Dog Game Two: Obstacle Course
Just because the weather isn’t playing along, doesn’t mean you and your dog can’t still play. Create an indoor obstacle course. Obstacle courses are great to exercise your dog and improve their agility. Look for things around the house that you can repurpose for your dog. Things like an old hula hoop or arranging chairs and cushions are great things to incorporate to create a great agility course for your dog. Building these obstacle courses will challenge your dog both mentally and physically and will boost their problem-solving. It’s also a great way to keep yourself, and the whole family entertained during rainy days.
Indoor Dog Game Three: Hall Ball
If your house happens to have a spacious hallway, you can use it to play a sneaky game of fetch. Move items out of harm’s way and throw a softball down the hallway for your dog to retrieve. It’s a great way to entertain your dog indoors and get their heart rate pumping. If you don’t feel comfortable with throwing the ball, you can alternatively give it a good roll. It can also be a great way to initiate some training time. Praise your dog for retrieving the ball and teach him to drop the ball when you say ‘drop’. It will improve your dog’s listening skills and obedience, all the while your dog gets a kick out of running around in the house for a bit. This game can also substitute as a way to teach your dog about boundaries. Yes, he is allowed to run in the hallway – but only when the toy is out.
Indoor Dog Game Four: A Play-Date
Dogs are natural players, explorers and problem-solvers. Arranging a puppy-play date allows your dog to interact with other canines and learn how to communicate with their species successfully.
Dogs use playtime together to practice essential survival skills like communication. Although playtime with a dog’s favourite human is great, an owner cannot mimic or instil the same experience that your dog would get from playing with a fellow canine. Chasing, tugging and wrestling is much faster-paced between two dogs and allows your dog to truly let themselves go, without the worry of injuring their human.
Regularly allowing your dog to socialise and interact with other dogs will also make your dog calmer and less reactive when walking on a leash, as they are getting enough dog-time.
We hope you have as much fun as your dog will be having when playing the games listed above. Exercising with your dog is a great way to stay fit with your pup while forgetting you’re even exercising! Remember to keep your precious pup tick and flea free all year round with Bravecto®, to ensure they’re always healthy and happy.