Fun Activities

Now that we have gone over different management strategies we are going to give you some games that will encourage appropriate interactions between your kids and puppy/dog.

Be a Tree

This game teaches kids how their body language and energy level can affect their puppy’s energy level.  I would have the puppy tethered to an adult or off the side where they can see but cannot reach the kids.  You could also have the puppy behind an exercise pen.  Coach the kids to stand up straight and plant their roots (feet) on the ground, then spread their branches (arms) out nice and wide.  Then get them to move their branches and in different ways (up tall, out wide, blowing in the wind, dancing) and point out when the puppy gets excited.  When the puppy is excited have them become a sleepy tree by tucking their branches in (crossing arms) and being still. Point out the change in your puppy’s behavior (usually after a moment the puppy becomes bored and sits or lies down).


Food Search

For this game, you will need multiple containers that are easy for your dog to get into, treats and imagination.  Hold your puppy or place them behind an ex-pen or on a tether while you have your child spread the containers around the room/area and then hide treats in some of the containers.  When they are done have them stand off to the side and “release” the puppy to “go search”.  As the puppy finds the hidden food praise and celebrate!

Food Scatter

For this game, you will need your puppy’s kibble (dry food) or many small treats.  Start by having your child say “scatter” then toss a handful of food on the ground for the puppy to clean up.  If you have an exuberant puppy, or a very young child you can use a baby gate or an exercise pen in between them to prevent jumping.  You can also have your puppy on a tether in the yard (grass makes the clean up last longer!) or to an adult.  Once the puppy understands the food game, you can have the child practice the puppy’s skills like sit or tricks and use the scatter as the reward!

Find It

For this game, you will need some of your puppy’s kibble (dry food) or many small treats.  Have the child stand still and say “find it” then toss a piece of food away from them. The goal is that the food toss is easy for the puppy to track and find.  When the puppy eats the food and turns their attention back to the child, the child says “find it” and tosses another piece.  This game encourages good attention on the handler, in this case, the child.  You can implement the same management strategies listed above for the scatter game as well as add in any obedience skills or tricks and use find it as the reward!

Freeze Tag

This is a fun game that helps eliminate jumping up and encourages a good recall.  For this game, you will need small tidbits of tasty treats or your puppy’s kibble.  I would start by moving away from your puppy slowly while calling their name and using happy tones to encourage them to follow you.  Once they get near you freeze in place and ask them to sit, when they do say “yes, good puppy” and give them a treat.  Now start moving again while calling your puppy.  As your puppy is successful in following you and sitting when asked you can increase your speed and excitement. If you have multiple children, they can all play this game.  Child A will move away from puppy calling them along after they freeze and treat the puppy for sitting then child B will start moving and calling the puppy and so on.

In this first video, Avery is playing with 2 dogs at the same time.  These dogs are very close friends and are each very familiar with this activity and waiting for their turn for their treats.  If you have multiple dogs, I suggest that you have them take turns until they have a better understanding of the game and so they do not overwhelm the children.

Here is a video of me playing with my own dog when he was about 6 months old.

Who’s Who?

This is a super fun game for the whole family!  For this game, you will need many small tidbits of food.  Each family member gets the same amount of treats and they all sit down in a circle.  This game encourages the puppy to come when called as well as teaches them to go to each family member by name.  As the puppy is succeeding you can spread your circle out further.