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9 Enrichment Games to Play on your Dog Walks

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Make your walks fun for both you and your pup!

Going for a walk with your pup is not only an excellent way to provide them with exercise and mental stimulation but also an opportunity to pay into the relationship bank between the two of you and strengthen your bond. Adding some engaging games to the mix can make the experience even more enjoyable for both you and your dog and help you provide multiple types of canine enrichment. Plus these games have the added benefit of helping with your pups training and behavior

In this blog post, we will explore great games you can play with your dog on a walk, ensuring a fun-filled and mentally stimulating outing for both of you.

Dogs walking

Enrichment Games to play on your dog walks

1. Hide and Seek

Playing hide and seek with your dog can be a fun game that taps into their natural instincts. While your dog is distracted or with the help of a friend, find a hiding spot and call out their name. When they find you, reward them with treats and praise or a game of tug with their toy. This game not only provides mental stimulation and encourages them to use their nose but also strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

2. Catch

Great for teaching your dog to pay attention to you whilst walking to heel (or if they struggle with heel this can help keep them in the right place). When your pup is in the right position and focused on you drop pieces of kibble for them to catch. This might take a bit of practice if they're not used to catching food but you’ll soon have them walking in just the right spot and focusing on you waiting for that next drop!

Dog on log

3. Obstacle Course

Transforming your walk into an obstacle course can add an extra level of fun and challenge. Look for objects in your environment, such as fallen logs or low walls, that can be utilized as obstacles. Guide your dog through the course, encouraging them to jump over or crawl under the obstacles. This game not only provides physical exercise but also helps improve your dog's coordination, balance, and problem-solving skills and for nervous dogs can help build their confidence. Start easy and work to your dog's comfort level.

4. "Find It"

The "Find It" game is an excellent way to engage your dog's sense of smell and problem solving abilities. Show your dog a treat or a toy and allow them to sniff it. Then, while your dog is watching, place the treat or toy in a nearby spot, such as behind a tree or under a bush. Give them the command "Find it!" and encourage them to search for the hidden item. When they find it, reward them with praise and a treat or a game with their toy. This game stimulates your dog's olfactory senses and provides a mentally stimulating experience. If they're on lead you can throw a treat in some grass and tell them to ‘find it’.

5. Speed Up, Slow Down, Turn Around

Make commands fun and encourage them to do it naturally. With an upbeat voice give commands to speed up, slow down, turn around, sit in any order you want and reward them for keeping pace with you. This keeps the walk interesting and unpredictable for your pup and keeps their attention on you. They’ll soon be keeping pace with you without you needing to use commands.

6. Recall

Make recall training fun for your pup so they want to come racing back and don't just see it as the end of their walk. Make it a party and have a great treat or their favorite tug toy available every time you call them back so when it's an emergency recall they won’t think twice about turning round and sprinting straight back to you.

Dog running through grass

7. Sniffari

For your dog, their most powerful sense is their smell. It’s significantly more sensitive than ours (some scientists think it could be up to 100000 stronger than ours!) and sniffing is a natural and very enriching experience for them. Think of it like doggy social media. They go along sniffing, receiving tons of information about who and what has been going on there. As they process all this information their brains are busy burning lots of mental energy. It’s even been suggested that letting your pup sniff can help with their optimism. Whilst it can often be frustrating for us, sometimes it’s worth us taking our time, slowing down and letting them sniff!

Dog sniffing tree

8. Bounce back

A great game to encourage your pup to constantly be coming to check in with you on a walk and not straying too far. When your dog is next to you and paying you attention, throw out a piece of food for them to go and find (start close until they get the hang of it). Once they've found the food, wait for them to come back to you. As soon as they do, use an affirmative word, like YES, or make an excited noise whilst throwing the next piece of food out in the opposite direction. Your dog will start to understand that the only way to release the next reward is to come bouncing back to you.

9. Fetch - A game to play but be aware of!

A classic for a reason. It's a simple yet highly effective way to provide exercise and mental stimulation during a walk. All you need is a ball or a toy that your dog loves. Playing fetch can help your dog burn off excess energy while also working on their agility and retrieval skills.

Dog playing fetch

Please be mindful when playing fetch however as research is showing us it can lead to some difficulties further down the line.

  • Constantly sprinting, braking, leaping and turning can lead to sprained muscles and joint problems.

  • It feeds into their prey drive and increases adrenaline - this could potentially lead to higher levels of cortisol (stress hormones) in a dogs brain. Prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels can negatively impact their health and lead to behavioral issues.

  • In already hyper or over aroused dogs where we might think they're burning off energy, we can unintentionally have the opposite effect. By repeatedly throwing the ball and them chasing it the dog then struggles to calm down and can become restless.

If you do play fetch try to;

  1. Only play it occasionally and don't repeat too often.

  2. Leave space in between each throw, giving time for calmness.

  3. Teach your dog to wait at your side and only release them to fetch the ball once it has stopped moving. This will decrease the risk of muscle injuries but it also great for teaching impulse control!

  4. If your dog becomes obsessed or over aroused then stop playing and this game might not be the best one for you.

Incorporating games into your regular dog walks not only provides physical exercise but also a variety of enrichment opportunities, mental stimulation and strengthens the bond between you and your pup. Remember to consider your dog's abilities and adjust the games accordingly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both of you. So, get out there, have fun, and make every walk a memorable adventure for your canine companion!

If you are interested in some great toy rewards to use with your dog whilst out on walks have a look at our range of tough and durable tug toys and chasers.

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