There is more than one way to entertain a child and a dog, and there is a way of doing both at the same time. When we think of kids playing with pets, it’s usually the standard outdoor games like fetch. But going outside isn’t always an option, and for both the kid and the dog, a single game of fetch can eventually become boring. Here is a list of five more ideas for your child’s playtime with dogs. Some of these you may not have thought of before, but with some instructions and patience they can add a spice of variety into your children’s routine.
Before you head out to try any of these, let’s talk about safety. Dogs are animals after all, and they can become irritated or unpredictable at times. Usually, a well-trained and socialized dog will be less likely to lash out. Regardless, you should never leave a small child to play with their dog unsupervised. Teaching a kid how to behave around dogs is important, and children must clearly understand when they are overstepping boundaries. When a kid respects a dog, the dog will usually return the respect.
Some things to remember when allowing kids to play with dogs include:
- Kids should only play with dogs that they know well, and not just any dog on the street.
- Do not let kids take away the toy from the dog if he’s not dropping it on command.
- Wrinkled noses, glared teeth, and tucked tails are all signs of fear aggression and that a dog feels threatened; this is time for a break.
- A wagging tail means a dog feels relaxed and safe, but does not mean that all other rules can be thrown out of the window.
When you know how to ensure a safe playtime for both your kid and the dog and are ready to supervise them both, here are some of the games your kids can play with pets when at home:
1. Indoor Obstacle Course
Those expansive canine agility courses are expensive and difficult to set up. Instead, get your child excited about building an obstacle course in your own home. Simply clear out some space, and use blankets, towels, pillows, and more to create a simple course your kid can teach your dog how to run through. You can even build some DIY hurdles for your kid to teach your dog to jump over. This is great for both your kid and dog. Your child learns some basic dog training techniques (and patience) while mentally stimulating the dog and teaching him listening skills.
2. Hide And Seek
The appeal of hide and seek is undeniable, and it turns out that many dogs love this game just as much as kids do. Start by having your child teach the dog to stay and sit in one place using the most basic commands. Then, either you or the kid should instruct the dog to sit and wait while your kid hides somewhere in the house. From a safe hiding place, they can call out for the dog and wait for the dog to come find them. This exercise is fun for animals and children, and can be done with or without your involvement, and makes for a great bonding experience for everybody.
3. Name Recall
Dogs have the amazing ability to learn the sound and tonality patterns of human language. While they won’t be having conversations with you or your kid, they are capable of remembering a specific name for each one of their toys. To play this fun game, grab a few Budsies toys or one of your pet’s favorite stuffed animals, and ask the kid to give each one of those a distinct name and stick with it. You can both work on teaching your dog the names of those toys by laying them out and asking to bring one, and take it from the dog only when a right toy has been brought to you. Once this is done, you can begin telling her to fetch specific ones when separating them further and even hiding. Your kid will be amazed as your dog actually knows which toy is which. This training exercise is fun and great at keeping your dog entertained, occupied and mentally stimulated.
4. Tug Of War
Tug of war is a great exercise for your dog and is better suited for older kids that are aware of how to behave carefully around animals. This game allows your pet to let out some of their inner predator instincts, and teaches them to let go of something on command. To make this game even more educational, have your kid teach your dog not to grab the toy until they are allowed to. Then tell them to grab the toy, and begin playing tug of war. Next, the kid can teach your dog to “drop it” on command. Remember, dogs love their toys and might not take it too kindly when you try to grab them so supervision is particularly needed here. This game should only be played with dogs your kid knows well, and these dogs should be non-aggressive.
5. Improv Tricks
Tricks are a great way to improve the bond between your kid and your pet. It’s one of the best mental stimulation games for canines and has been scientifically proven to improve their cognitive abilities. The child will start with basic obedience commands, including sit and stay, which your dog should know already. From there, they can move onto more fun commands, such as shake and roll over. Once your dog knows how to do these common tricks, it’s time for the kid to start improvising and teaching new ones. While you can get your child some dog books or browse the internet to find some tricks, another good way is just to be creative and have the kid make them up on the spot.
Some of your children’s fondest childhood memories could be playing with their dog. Moreover, these games are also very good for the dog, as they all implement skills and obedience training to reinforce good behavior and mentally stimulate them. Above all, allowing your kids for more playtime of different nature improves and brings about a great bonding experience between your them and their dogs, as well as you and your child as you help them learn how to play safely.