Games for the home

Games with the dog in the house.

 dog game tug of war
A popular dog game is tug of war.

Smart dogs need to be kept busy for a certain amount of time during the day, which includes the daily walk. For this purpose, below are some more game ideas, and many more can be created by themselves with a little imagination throughout the day. Sometimes it is quite enough to use a few free minutes during the daily routine for a short game with the dog.

Games for the home

Sometimes there is not enough time for the actually sensible and necessary walks with the dog, or one’s own health or the weather puts a spoke in the wheel. Also, if one has a female in heat, the daily excursion in the critical time is reduced gladly to a minimum. With older dogs, long ‘forced marches’ are then anyway no longer announced and with continuous rain or freezing temperatures the fun in the free nature stops with most dog owners anyway.

For these times and cases, there are fortunately some games, which can also be played indoors with the dog to pass the time. This is only a small, current selection, and therefore you should only be inspired by these ideas to invent or vary your own personal games tailored for their own dog.

Tug of War

Pulling games
Tug-of-War can be a little rougher, and you have to watch your hands, so these games with dogs are unsuitable for children just because of their size.
For tug-of-war, an old towel or similar piece of fabric, like the old pajama pants in the video below, is needed. This piece is knotted in the middle once strongly to make it resistant to tearing.

This game is good for the dog because it promotes his self-confidence and also obedience through the out command at the end of the tug of war. In addition, there is a strengthening of the dentition and neck muscles.

Tug-of-war can be played practically anywhere and at any time, because no great effort is necessary for it, and it is also a lot of fun for almost all dogs. If a dog does not like it, it may be because the length of the piece of cloth is too short or its texture uncomfortable. In this case, you should try again with a slightly longer piece of different fabric material.

Since the longer the game lasts, the more violent the game can become and some dogs can really get into it, it should only be carried out with well-trained animals that have been known for a long time. Since sometimes even the fingers can be affected if you are not careful, or a strong and larger dog jumps at you, the game is not suitable for children because of their height and weight, nor with strange dogs.

Even puppies play such games with their siblings if they are given scraps of cloth or suitable toys. Wild dogs and wolves in nature also conduct similar pulling contests when it comes to cutting up a prey animal or distributing food.
That’s why this trial of strength is still a lot of fun even for adult dogs, although more reserved dogs need to be motivated a bit at the beginning. The fighter types, on the other hand, know right away what it’s all about and, depending on their size, can challenge their masters quite a bit.

Puppies playing tug of war
Puppies playing tug of war.

Of course, tug-of-war can be played almost anywhere outside of your own four walls, and if you leave the prey object to the dog afterwards, he can possibly keep himself busy for a while.

A restrained dog should win at tug-of-war from time to time, by giving him the ‘prey’ more or less voluntarily at the end of the game. This will boost his self-confidence and also his enjoyment of the game.
On the other hand, a self-confident or dominant dog should not walk off the field as the winner so often and keep the spoils. Rather, you should triumph often yourself and hold the toy in the air in front of him, otherwise it may happen that the dog’s dominance increases even more, and he will soon reach for dominance over the pack of human and animal.

As with all other games, it is important to end the game yourself before the dog gets bored and does it on his own. The duration of a game is always determined by the human pack leader, and also how long the dog is allowed to keep the toy afterwards.


Snatch it on the fly

The dog is supposed to snatch thrown bite-sized treats on the fly, which encourages dexterity.
This game is a bit old-fashioned, but especially for older and not so agile dogs, it is a lot of fun to catch a deftly thrown treat with the mouth while sitting or lying down.
Also, not every dog is dexterous enough for this game and in the preceding video you can see my Cretan pointer cross hunting dog Simba doing it after the tug of war, excelling the best among all my dogs.

snatch the treat
Here Simba, lying on the dog couch, is about to snatch the treat thrown to him in flight.

In addition, you should not practice a game ten times in a row with a dog, but several times throughout the day two or three times when the dog is in the best mood for it. Especially when snatching treats, dogs are practically always in the mood for it !

Hat game

For the hat or shell game it is best to use two or three plastic cups, discarded pasta strainers or small clay flower pots.
The idea comes from the nimble street players of the big cities, who skillfully hide a nut or a ball under one of three little hats with their quick hands, then push them back and forth in a flash and offer a bet to the spectators present at the time, under which of the three little hats the hidden object is located. This is commonly referred to as ‘Salvatore’s shell game’.

Dog playing the 'hat game'
Dog playing the ‘hat game’ for exercise through nose work: it is a matter of sniffing out and uncovering the treat that is under one of the cups.

You can play something similar with your dog. The dog should first sit or lie in front of you, and then his attention is drawn to your own hands with the treat.
In a ceremonial way, you drop the treat into one of the pots and place it in front of the dog, bottom up, so that the contents are hidden. You can then move the pots back and forth a few more times.

Most dogs, once they understand the game, will immediately try to go to the potties and look for the treat. They should be stopped from doing this until they are given permission by a command.

Now first with most beginners among the dogs a scene ripe for filming will follow, as one can see also beautifully in the following video.

The problems of the beginners and the lightning fast professional can be seen wonderfully one after the other in this short video:


Presumably, the dog quickly finds out under which little hat the treat is located due to his sense of smell. But how he gets to it is the crucial problem, which only dogs experienced with the game will solve in a flash.
The beginner dog, on the other hand, will paw at it, push the potty in front of him with his muzzle and sometimes beg to help or give up in resignation after a while.

If it still doesn’t work after several tries, you can show him how it’s done. On all fours, sniffing the little hats with your nose and then knocking them over with your nose as well. Most dogs will sooner or later get the hang of it.

Nevertheless, the shell game is never boring for the dog, and it can be played again and again quickly times in between. Finally, a tasty treat is waiting as a reward under one of the pots !

In addition, there are specially designed intelligence toys for dogs, which work similarly to the time-honored hat (or shell) game.
A video to clarify the question of who is the smartest dog in the house can be found below:


Dog as a model game

Dog language
Elegant dog with bow tie.

To play photo model with the dog, of course, you need a photo camera, possible additional lighting lamps indoors and a tripod, treats, any accessories and decorative material.
The game supports the dog’s patience and obedience.

It seems strange at first, but for many dogs the role of the photo model is really entertaining and they just love to model and attract attention.
With devotion they patiently pose both sitting and standing, in front of the Christmas tree and on the sofa, as Santa Claus, with elegant bow tie and other creative outfits.

Photo equipment for dog model pictures.
Photo equipment for dog model pictures.

The photos create beautiful memories and can be made into original postcards, puzzles, posters and many other things immortalized with the image of the dog.

Dog with Santa Claus costume
Dog with Santa Claus costume in front of Christmas tree.
But not every dog is born to be a photo model, so you should not force four-legged friends without such star tendencies. But if it’s just a lack of patience to stay calm for a moment, you can solve the problem with a lot of coaxing and rewards with treats.

But to make fun of the dog when he has to wear ridiculous T-shirts or other outfits of this kind is not very amusing for the ‘photo model’ either and does not exactly promote his willingness to participate in this game.
In contrast, cheerful photos in a snazzy outfit, Santa’s pom-pom hat or fancy neckerchiefs, ties or bow ties are certainly nicer for everyone involved.

For photographing the dog, it is best to be at the animal’s eye level. Dark dogs should be photographed against a light background, while light dogs look best against a dark background.
There should also be no ‘distracting’ backdrops (such as floral wallpaper) in the background, and the edges should be cleared of all unnecessary paraphernalia and furniture, although you can also crop the photo to fit later on your computer (using Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022, for example).
The dog or his face should be as complete as possible on the photo, because cut off ears or tails do not look so great.

Santa's helper.
Santa’s helper.

Nutcracker game

This game requires only some peanuts and vacuum cleaner or similar cleaning tools at the end of the game. Nutcracker game is fun and entertaining for dogs.

dog cracking nuts
Dog DuDi cracking nuts and then eating them.

The game is simple and only requires the dog to lie down somewhere, after which he receives a handful of peanuts.
The first time, dogs will sniff them carefully and perhaps take one in the mouth. If they don’t bite and crack the nut, you should turn the dog’s concentration to you and, with a lot of show, crack a nut with your hand.
Throw the shells away disparagingly and give the dog the nut to eat. Most dogs like peanuts, and they are also healthy, because they contain many unsaturated fatty acids, which make the coat more beautiful. What the dog can’t digest of it will be excreted.

Quickly, the dog will master the nut-candy game and is busy with itself for a while. What remains is then quickly done with the vacuum cleaner, or if the dog does the job on a blanket, with shaking out.

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