If you haven’t read the pages About Me, Healthy Dog or Well behaved dog, I suggest that you read those pages first as they are the foundation pages for creating a Happy Dog, or happy dog behaviour.

Eight dogs wearing party hats are sitting around a poker table playing poker while one bulldog is holding a card between his toes



What is a Happy Dog?

A happy dog is one that has a knowledgeable Leader, that enjoys better than average care, and that has regular outlets for energy (exercise and fun). The end result is a dog that loves people.


How to play with your dog

#1- Play hide and seek!a Yellow Lab Retriever and a child are playing hide and seek around a large tree

This is one of my favorites to do with one of my house dogs. It is similar to the children’s version of hide and seek. It is easier to get started with this game when you have two people. One person stays with the dog until the second person has found a hiding spot in the house or yard. The person hiding should have a treat or toy that the dog really loves in hand.

The game begins with the human and dog seekers going off to look for the human that is hiding. The seeker can get the dog excited by saying something like “Find (person’s name)!! Where is (person’s name)?? etc. The Seeker may have to help the dog along to find the hiding person. Once the dog and seeking person find the hiding person, everyone makes a big deal of praising the dog and giving him or her the treat or toy!

Over time, the dog will become very good at this game and will not need any help to find the person hiding! When my children were very young, our well mannered dog would find me first, making it a little too easy for my children to find me. My children soon learned to follow the dog!

#2- Play fetch!
a Beagle retrieving a red ball

This game generally works best with a dog that will actually retrieve the toy or ball, otherwise you will be doing the fetching and throwing! I suggest that you use soft toys or balls to play inside so you don’t break something accidentally! Members of our family would throw one of our dog’s favorite toys or balls down a hallway, across the dining floor or down the stairs to get our little Pom to retrieve for us.

Now if you have a dog that has no interest at all in chasing after a ball or toy, then this game will obviously not be very much fun. How to teach your dog to fetch? If your dog chases after the toy or ball but won’t retrieve it for you, you can teach him to give up the toy by either trading for another toy or by giving a treat each time he or she releases to you. If your dog is a natural retriever, this will be a game you can play any time!

Our beautiful Husky, Gus, loved toys but he’d only play for a couple of minutes and then he’d be bored. Our Golden Retriever, Chelsea and later our Pomeranian, Joey, were CRAZY about retrieving ANYTHING! We would get tired of the game long before they would.

#3- Play Tug of War!
small brown and white dog pulling on a rope tug toy with a person

This game only works for dogs that are a bit possessive of toys. Our Pom, Joey, loved this game too and would play tug of war with his best buddy, a Corgi X, named Bobo or with any human that was up for a game. Tug is simply a game with a dog holding onto a toy and a person or dog holding onto the other end, and pulling.

This game can be a lot of fun for both parties but here I have to caution you. This is not a game for very powerful dogs unless you teach your dog to RELEASE the toy when You, the Leader, say the game is over. In fact, this game should never be played with very dominant dogs that have NOT learned to RELEASE the toy to you.

Small children should never play this game with dogs more powerful than they are either. This game is a great confidence builder though for timid dogs. What better way to give a submissive and timid dog some confidence when you ‘pretend’ that he or she has just ‘won’ the game of Tug! I find it’s easy to teach the ‘release or give’ command by offering a treat as a ‘trade’ for the tug toy.

The company Tether Tug sells a interesting tug device where the dog is playing tug by himself, not with you!  This eliminates the problem of having a dog become too powerful in his relationship with you. As I mention, you must teach your dog to release a toy to you when having games of tug of war to reinforce in your dog’s mind that YOU are the Leader. This toy bypasses that need and allows the dog to tug away with no human at the other end.  This US based company is fairly new and ships throughout the States, to Canada and by now, Australia too.

The above games could be enjoyed with house trained dogs or outdoor dogs.
Check out the Sports 101 page with sports designed for dogs! Activities like Agility | Frisbee | Skijoring and other Joring sports | or Backpacking with your dog


A smaller Golden retriever cross running with a tennis ball in his mouth



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