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Games To Play With Your Dogs To Improve Their Health

As dog owners, it is our responsibility to always look out forour pups’ health. And as long as we keep them healthy and happy, they will provide us with an unending supply of love and appreciation.

Most of us know to be on the lookout for signs that something may be wrong with our canines, but did you know that there are also simple ways to improve their healthwhile playing with them?

There are quite a few games we can play with our dogs that actually have health benefits. From the physical to the mental, these playtime activities can keep our pets in tip-top shape!

Scroll through below for an exclusive list of 10 games you can play with your pup that will not only provide bonding time, but will positively impact their health as well.

These came as a complete surprise to me. Some of them like fetch and catch I’ve been doing for years. But most of them are games I never thought to try before. Now we can have fun and look out for their health at the same time!

Which of these games do you plan to try with your pup? Do you have any other game suggestions to keep them mentally and physically fit? Let us know in the comments.

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1. Treasure Hunt

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

The game of treasure hunt comes from Mother Nature Network.

The Game:

  1. Make your dog sit and watch while you hide a favorite toy or treat somewhere obvious.
  2. Release your dog to go find it.
  3. Slowly increase the difficulty by choosing more challenginglocations or not allowing your dog to watch.

The Benefits:

  • Strengthens thesenses
  • Stimulates the brain
  • Improves problem-solving skills

2. Laser Pointer Chase

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

The book10-Minute Dog Training Games suggests this fun and easy game.

The Game:

  1. Point a laser pointer at the ground, flicking it lightly.
  2. Once your dog takes notice, begin to move the pointer around the room, allowing them to chase it.

The Benefits:

  • Increases agility
  • Improves coordination
  • Strengthens the senses

3. Frisbee Catch

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

While this game isn’t for every dog, PetMD suggests playing Frisbee catch with pups under 50 pounds.

The Game:

  1. Allow your dog to hold the Frisbee to become accustomed to it.
  2. Begin by throwingthe disc at a low level and close proximity, right to their mouth, and allowing them to return it to you.
  3. Once mastered, toss the disc outdoors, gradually adding height and distance as you go.

The Benefits:

  • Increases stamina
  • Improves coordination
  • Builds self-control
  • Strengthens muscles

4. Obstacle Course

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Cesarsway.com recommends trying the obstacle course with your pup.

The Game:

  1. Place various items around your living room, like a hula-hoop, a seat cushion tunnel, and other obstacles.
  2. Lead your pup through each of the obstacles slowly, giving verbal guidance and encouragement.
  3. Over time, allow your pup to tackle a newcourse with less instruction and less direct coaching.

The Benefits:

  • Stimulates the brain
  • Improves critical thinking skills
  • Increases agility

5. Food Puzzles

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

According to WebMD, food puzzle toys can be particularly beneficial to your dog’s health.

The Game:

  1. Place your dog’s food in a food puzzle toy, which involves shaking, pawing, or rolling to retrieve the food.
  2. Allow them to work out the puzzle on their own, ideally beginning with an easier toy.
  3. Over time, “feed your dog at least one meal a day in a food puzzle toy.”

The Benefits:

  • Improves problem-solving skills
  • Lowers stress
  • Increasespatience

6. Tug-Of-War

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

As long as your dog doesn’t have a history of aggression or suffer from arthritis or bad teeth, Doghealth.com suggests trying tug-of-war.

The Game:

  1. Choose an item that is specifically designated for tug-of-war only.
  2. Have your dog sit, while you offer up the item, never allowing them to lunge or leap for it.
  3. Once your dog calmly accepts the item, play a brief tug-of-war.
  4. Practice giving a command to “drop it,” reinforcing “that you are in control of the game.”

The Benefits:

  • Strengthens muscles
  • Lowers stress levels
  • Increases self-confidence

7. Fetch

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

While it might seem like an obvious game, Animal Planet suggests fetch to improve your pup’s health.

The Game:

  1. Toss a stick or ball a short distance, allowing your dog to retrieve it.
  2. Slowly increase the distance of the throw, offering encouragement and positive reinforcement each time the item is returned.

The Benefits:

  • Strengthens muscles
  • Buildscoordination
  • Improves joint health
  • Promotes heart health

8. Cleanup

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Another fun game that benefits your dog is the game of cleanup.

The Game:

  1. Choose a container that always houses your dog’s toys.
  2. At the end of playtime, coach your pup to return the items to the bin.
  3. Over time, provide less coaching and physical involvement, until the sight of the bin is enough to stimulate the cleanup process.

The Benefits:

  • Improves spatial awareness
  • Builds coordination
  • Promotes self-confidence

9. Hide-And-Seek

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

WebMDsuggests that a simple game of hide-and-seek can be great for your pup.

The Game:

  1. Similar to treasure hunt,make your dog sit and watch while you hide somewhere obvious.
  2. Verbally call your dog to come find you, providing positive reinforcement when they discover you.
  3. Slowly increase the difficulty by choosing more challenginglocations or not allowing your dog to watch, but simply calling out to them when you are ready for them to search.

The Benefits:

  • Strengthens the senses
  • Stimulates the brain
  • Improves problem-solving skills

10. Stair Catch

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Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Mother Nature Network recommends this highly active game of stair catch.

The Game:

  1. Have your dog sit at the bottom of the stairs.
  2. Throw a ball or toy to the top landing of the stairs, yelling “go” when you want them to run.
  3. Allow your dog to return the item at their own pace, and repeat.

The Benefits:

  • Strengthens muscles
  • Improvesheart health
  • Builds stamina
  • Promotes joint health

Each of these games can be a fun way to spend an afternoon with your pup, while also doing something incredible for their health!

Which of these games do you plan to try with your pup? Do you have any other game suggestions to keep them mentally and physically fit? Let us know in the comments.

PleaseSHARE these health-improving games with other dog owners in your life!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/dog-game-health-benefits/