Training your dog basic skills doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, there’s no reason that your dog needs to know that “come” or “stay” isn’t a fun trick! These dog training games teach your dogs valuable life skills like patience and focus at home or on the road.

Two samoye dogs pulling on a stuffed toy between them and standing on a dog cot
@samoyedmerlin

It’s Your Choice

  • Some dog training games, like this one, teach patience and impulse control around food and toys
    1. Place a few treats in your hand and place your hand above your dog’s head.
    2. Keep your hand closed as your dog sniffs, nibbles, or paws at your hand. If he doesn’t stop after about 10 seconds, your hand is too low and tempting. Raise it up to make the choice easier.
    3. Open your hand when your dog steps or sits back away from your hand.
    4. Close your hand if your dog dives back in for the goodies.
    5. When she stays away for about one second, deliver a treat to her mouth.
    6. Gradually build up time between opening your hand and delivering the treat so that your dog has to watch the open hand for longer.
    7. Once your dog can wait about 5 seconds before diving back in for the treats, you can lower your hand a bit to make things harder. Eventually, you’ll put treats on the floor and cover them with your foot!
    8. Start saying “leave it” as you open your hand after about 5 good practice sessions.
    9. Practice in a variety of locations and with a variety of toys and treats to help your dog really learn the concept.
Dog sitting behind dog gate waiting for a piece of watermelon being handed to it

Can You Listen When

  • Other dog training games can help your dog learn to listen to cues even around distractions
    1. Teach your dog a cue like sit, down, shake, spin, stand, roll over, or wave. 
    2. Every time you train, change the picture a bit: a new room, a different toy on the ground nearby, windows open or closed, etc.
    3. Gradually increase the difficulty and creativity of your distractions – try in your back yard, the park, an urban street, the beach; or near a toy, a plate of food, livestock, other dogs, joggers; while your dog is on concrete, sand, a puddle, a couch cushion, snow; while sounds are going off nearby like music, barking dogs, or the vacuum; while you are staring at a wall, doing air-squats, sitting down, kneeling, lying on your belly, walking in circles.
    4. You’ll be amazed how hard it is for your dog to listen to cues that she “knows” when you add in these distractions at first – and how quickly her responses improve with this game.
German sheperd sitting down behind a dog gate with the door open
@rex_von_deutsch

Look At That

  • Help your dog get over big distractions with this game
    1. Take treats on a walk with you. Keep an eye out for things that generally upset or distract your dogs. Stay far enough away from them that your dog won’t start to bark, lunge, or otherwise lose his mind.
    2. When you see the object of focus (a person, dog car, or squirrel), click or say “yes!” and feed your dog a treat when he looks back at you.
    3. If your dog doesn’t turn towards you because he’s too fixated on the object of focus, you’re too close or your treats aren’t good enough. Try again next time.
    4. Move away from the object of focus so that your dog can continue being successful.
    5. Over time, let your dog move closer and closer to the objects as long as he’s still able to look away from them and eat politely. If he can’t do that, you’re too close!
Dog sitting on floor with dog gate behind him.

One-Two-Three Walking:

  • This dog training game helps to build leash skills
    1. Get a bunch of treats and your dog’s leash and start walking up and down a hallway or in a circle in a large room.
    2. Start to count out “one, two, three” repeatedly. 
    3. Every time you say three, hand your dog a treat. 
    4. Soon, your dog will start to stay close and associate “three” with a treat. Why pull when there’s a treat coming your way?
    5. Gradually practice in more challenging environments and spread out the duration of time in between each “one, two, three” repetition. 

SMART x 50

  • Lastly, teach house manners all day long with this fun dog training game
    1. Put 50 treats (or pieces of your dog’s dinner kibble) in a jar or treat pouch.
    2. Pay attention to your dog while you’re getting ready for the day, prepping dinner, or relaxing in the evening. Don’t prompt or cue him to do anything specific.
    3. When your dog does something you like (sitting, lying down, looking up at you before going through a door, choosing to ignore the cat), say “good boy” and toss him a treat.
    4. Repeat until all of the treats are gone.
Dog laying on floor with a dog snuffle mat

Want to learn more training tips? We’ve got a whole section on our blog –Training Your Dog.

Learn how to make DIY puzzle and sensory toys for your pet to help with different aspects of dog training and boredom here.

Author

Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant from Colorado. She has spent most of her adult life training troublesome dogs in shelters, private settings, and online. She owns Journey Dog Training, an online pet behavior help service that focuses on helping people around the world with their pets. Kayla loves working with tricky dogs almost as much as she loves hiking, running, and skiing with her Border Collie, Barley. You can learn more about Kayla and explore her training programs at JourneyDogTraining.com or by following Journey Dog Training on YouTube and Facebook.

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