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11 Great Puppy Games to Play With Your New Puppy

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

white and black dog playing with a yellow toy on the grass

11 Great Puppy Games to Play With Your New Puppy

Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for any owner, but it is also full of challenges.

After an initial period of settling in, you will want to start socializing your new addition and the earlier you can start basic training, the better your chances of having a well-behaved dog. You need to ensure that they’re happy and healthy, too, while also ensuring that your pet pup forms close bonds with family members.

Playing games can be an effective way to develop a lot of the skills your dog needs in life. It allows you to teach some basic commands, lets them burn off energy while building muscle and stamina, and it will develop a bond between you both.

But, what games are suitable and what games will you both enjoy? Below are 11 great puppy games you can play with your new dog.

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The 11 Puppy Games You Can Play With Your New Dog

1. Fetch

yorkie or yorkshire terrier fetching a dog ball toy
Image Credit: Bonnie Kittle, Unsplash

It’s a timeless classic and for good reason. Fetch encourages your dog to run around and even teaches some basic recall. If you use a favorite toy, it can also teach your dog to let go of items and encourage them to share.

Initially, fetch can seem like a chore. You will have to start with a small toy that is soft, easy to carry, and doesn’t pose a choking hazard. You will likely have to accompany your dog as it walks to the toy, and then reward and praise them when they do come back with the object, with additional praise for giving it up.

Over time, and encouraged by your enthusiastic praise, your puppy will learn the routine and you won’t have to be quite as involved in the process. You can also increase the distance you throw and the size of the item, although it should never be so large that it’s a struggle to carry.

2. Find the Toy

Dogs understand the concept of object permanence, which means they know that when something is put out of sight, it still exists. That’s how they know that their favorite toy you put away is in the cupboard under the stairs. However, they do need some help developing these instincts, and find the toy is a great way to encourage this behavior.

Get a toy that you know your dog likes and find somewhere to hide it. Initially, you should do this with your dog watching but sitting and waiting. Make sure part of the toy is still visible. So, for example, you can half cover the toy with a blanket or towel. You will need to encourage them to go and find the toy and provide plenty of praise when they are successful.

As their skills improve, you can find increasingly cunning places to hide the toy, but most dogs will get bored of the game if it is too difficult.

3. Hide & Seek

Hide and seek enables you to teach a dog its name as well as a recall command like “come”. It also encourages the sit and stay commands, and with plenty of encouragement and praise, you will see how much they enjoy the game by the wagging of their tail and the excitement in their eyes when they find you.

Initially, you will need two people to play this game effectively. Have somebody hold the dog while you go and hide. Once hidden, call their name or use the “come” command and have the other person let them go. Over time, you can introduce the stay command so it becomes a one-person game. Have different people play the game and use the dog’s name to teach them.

4. Find the Treats

You’ve already hidden toys and yourself: this game uses tasty treats. Use something that your puppy recognizes the smell of and start easy before building up to a more taxing challenge.

Initially, have somebody hold the dog while you “hide” the treat. Ensure it is partially visible and easy to find and use the “find it” command when you let them loose. They will use their senses of smell and sight to find the treat. Over time, you can hide the treat somewhere the dog can’t see, and eventually, you should even be able to play the canine equivalent of chase the lady by hiding the treat under one of two or three cups and having them choose the right one.

5. Jump

Dog clearing a high jump obstacle course
Image Credit: woodsilver, Pixabay

Many different breeds and individual dogs grow to love agility. While you can’t expect a three-month-old puppy to be able to take on multiple jumps, ramps, tunnels, and slaloms just yet, you can introduce them to the concept. It’s also a good way to help get them used to being on a leash and not hating the experience.

Set up a small hurdle, put your dog on the leash, and run and hop over the hurdle. You can add second and additional hurdles while increasing their size, over time. You can also teach the dog to tackle the jump independently while you walk alongside.

6. Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys, such as treat-stuffed Kongs, encourage a host of positive activities and teach multiple lessons to your dog. They encourage logical thought and they require that your dog use its sense of smell. They are also an independent game that doesn’t require or benefit from human input, although you may need to show a young puppy what to do.

Supervise your young puppy with the toy, initially, to ensure that they don’t injure themselves or break anything and to make sure the puzzle isn’t too taxing.

7. Frisbee

border collie dog playing with frisbee
Image Credit: txus71, Pixabay

As your puppy gets older, you can introduce more challenging games and you can ramp up the difficulty of those that you already enjoy. Frisbee is essentially a game of fetch but it involves a flying disc-shaped object that can be thrown further and poses a greater challenge for your dog.

You can start with a foam disc, which is softer and less dangerous than a hard plastic one, and start throwing it a short distance before increasing the range over time. You will likely need a large open space for this game, as well as excellent recall skills.

8. Tug of War

Tug of War gets some bad press as a dog game, but it can help puppies strengthen their teeth and build muscle while mimicking some of the hunting techniques they would have used in the wild. It’s also a lot of fun, but it should be treated with some care and you will need to set clear ground rules right from the beginning.

Do not let your dog encourage you to play this game by pulling on hands or clothing: make sure that you initiate the game.

Choose the tug of war toy carefully, and if you use a toy made with rope, remove it after the game, otherwise, your pup could end up eating the strands of rope and suffering gastrointestinal problems.

Don’t pull too hard and don’t swing your dog around by the toy.

Finally, do let your dog win occasionally, otherwise, it will become frustrating and can cause anxiety.

9. Sprinkler Games

Some dogs love water. Some dogs hate it. But if you ever need to wash a dirty dog down, you will want yours to at least tolerate it. Sprinkler games are not only a refreshing form of entertainment for the summer months, but if you start when your pup is young, they will become accustomed to being splashed and getting wet. You can get sprinklers for dogs, as well as doggy paddling pools if you don’t want to use your own or you don’t have anything suitable.

Don’t force your dog into the water if they are stressed or anxious about it. Alternatively, turn the sprinkler on and play fetch or chase through the water. Fill the paddling pool with a small amount of water and throw a toy or ball in to play chase. You can increase the water level over time.

10. Agility Courses

As your dog gets older and develops more physical skills and athleticism, you can start to create your own agility courses. Put down hurdles, have a box or table that they need to jump on, and consider buying agility tunnels and slaloms.

Each of the individual elements of an agility course can prove useful in other areas of your’s and your dog’s life. For example, jumping on the table is similar to jumping in the trunk of a car or even on the vet’s table.

Eventually, you can sign up for dog agility classes that are more advanced and structured than your own efforts, and this is a great way to ensure that they have an understanding of the concept before you arrive.

11. Chase

Why do dogs chase
Image Credit: Kareli Lizcano, unsplash

Chase is a relatively simple concept but it can be used to teach good behavior and you can add extra elements that improve your dog’s skills. This is another game where you need to let your puppy win from time to time to avoid anxiety, and although some excitable jumping is to be expected, you can use the game to teach that scratching and nipping are not acceptable forms of behavior.

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How Much Should You Play With a New Puppy?

Generally speaking, you should provide a puppy with at least 30 minutes of structured exercise each day, and play for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Not only can you use this time to teach some vital skills, but it allows you to bond and it will wear your pup out. A tired puppy will not look for ways to amuse itself, such as chewing furniture or eating shoes.

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A puppy can make a fascinating addition to any family, but you do need to ensure that you meet all of its needs. As well as keeping it healthy and properly fed, this means providing entertainment and physical and mental stimulation. You will both benefit from playing regular and inventive games, and you should aim to play for around 30 minutes each day, progressively increasing the challenge of the games that you play.

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Featured Image Credit: Justin Veenema, Unsplash

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