Even as they near adulthood, growing puppies are bundles of energy – just ask a worn out puppy owner. Young dogs are developing at such a rapid rate; sometimes it can feel hard to keep up. Providing your pup with plenty of opportunities for play will not only encourage him to be physically active but will also offer the much-needed mental stimulation he craves to keep him busy and out of trouble. As many puppy owners discover, an under-stimulated dog will find other ways to create fun including ripping the stuffing out of your sofa and chewing your favourite pair of shoes!
To get you started, we’ve rounded up 5 great games to play with a growing puppy:
HIDE & SEEK
Not only is this fun for your pooch, it’s also a great way to work on his recall which is vital if you plan to let him off the lead in the park. You’ll need to two people to play this game. Get a friend to hold your puppy while you hide somewhere nearby. Let him watch you walk away so he knows where you’re going, then hide out of sight. Start calling your dog’s name enthusiastically, using whatever ‘come’ command you have decided on and have your friend release your dog. Eager to be reunited, Fido will come bounding over to you, and most likely be ready for a big cuddle and lots of praise when finds you.
As your puppy nears adulthood between 9-12 months, his nutrition is as important as ever. Just like a teenager, he is energetic and high-spirited, so it’s vital to combine plenty of constructive play with a diet tailored just for his breed and stage in life. Feeding a premium food like EUKANUBA with DHA will help him to meet his learning challenges, improve trainability and set your dog up for a healthy transition into adulthood.
Water play is an excellent way to engage your dog’s senses, get him used to new experiences and to cool off on a hot day! With puppies it’s a good idea to start them on a very lightweight long line and just sit by the side of some shallow water. Do not use deep ponds or places where your dog needs to swim. Once your puppy shows an interest in standing in the water, look at playing games by the water, slowly getting the toy to land in the shallowest part – make sure you have your toy on some kind of rope or string, so that it doesn’t float off! Once he has some confidence, you can progress them to throwing the toy further, encouraging your pup to venture out into the water.
It’s important to note that not all dogs are comfortable around water and if your pup seems hesitant, don’t push the issue. Let him approach (or not) at his own pace, all the while offering plenty of praise and creating positive associations with the water. And be aware that about 15 minutes water play can be the same as an hour’s walk so take care not to wear your young dog out too much!
TUG OF WAR
Puppies just love a good game of tug, especially terriers! When played correctly this can be a great form of fun and stimulation for your dog, as well as a good exercise in teaching your pup self-control. Start by choosing a toy that suits your dog – this could be a soft plush toy if you dog is quite gentle or a more robust knotted rope toy for stronger dogs. You should always initiate the game, not your dog, and the important (and sometimes tricky) part is to teach your dog when to let go. Have some treats on hand so when you’re ready to stop the game, you place a treat under your dog’s nose and say ‘drop’, ‘release’ or whichever command you are using. Once your dog drops the toy and sits down, he gets the treat. Eventually you will be able to have him drop the toy just by giving the command followed by a good helping of praise.
TEACH SOME TRICKS
By the time your dog is 9-12 months, he should know his basic commands like sit and stay. Now you can get a bit more ambitious with teaching new tricks. Roll over is a fun one to teach which both you and your dog will enjoy. Start by having your dog sit and hold a treat to his nose. Move the treat down to the floor saying ‘lay down’. Once he’s on the ground on his tummy, move the treat across, guiding his body with your hand so he rolls over and say ‘roll over. Offer him the treat at the end for a job well done.
FUN WITH FOOD
Domestic dogs no longer have to hunt and forage for their food, but the instinct to do so is still present. Make feeding time more fun for your furry friend by using an interactive feeder. These come in many forms from puzzle games, which require your dog to move certain parts in order to access the food, or to treat balls, which you can stuff with kibble. Your dog has to roll the ball around the floor with his nose to release the treats slowly through a small hole. You can even create your own DIY games like the muffin tin tennis ball challenge where you place treats underneath tennis balls in a muffin tray and your dog has to remove the balls to reach them. Fun for everyone!
* This post is sponsored by EUKANUBA