5 Treats Games to Play with your Dog
Dog treats are great for all kinds of things, rewards, training or just to see them happy. But do you know you can also have great fun, and play games with treats and your dog?
A lot of the time, treats are handed over, and they are gone in seconds. Using treats to play is a great way of bonding with your dog, making treats EVEN more exciting, making treats last longer, letting them use a full range of their senses, and tiring them out! (To name just a few benefits!)
Keep reading for some great “Treat-Games”.
1. Treat Tag
This is a great game to play with your dog, and one you can do best with treats (or can only do with treats!). We have put this one first on the “Treat Games” list because we think it’s great and not many have heard of it or played it with their dog before. For this game you need 2 or more people, and, of course, at least one dog! (Although we aren’t sure exactly have this would work with multiple dogs!). This game involves lots of excitement and fun, but is also great for recall.
How to do it: Get your other half, or your friends, in a room or in a field. Give out a handful of treats to each person playing. Make sure your dog sees that each person is getting a big bunch of treats. This will spike his/her interest, and get their attention!
Have all the people playing spread out. If you are playing outdoors, back up a couple of meters from each other to start with.
If your dog saw all the treats being dished out, he will no doubt be very focused on the human players already.
Now to start the fun! Have one person call your dogs name very excitedly! As soon as he arrives, that person needs to be on the ball and give your dog a treat. As soon as he has eaten that first treat, a second person needs to call your dog. Again, they need to do this in an excited voice, and they need to be well timed in giving the treat. Your dog will soon pick up that this is a great game!
Tip: You can either pre-choose an order for your friends to call your dog over, or, if you want to have a little fun between yourselves, you can vie for your dog’s attention and even keep score who he comes to the most! This will up the energy level, and therefore the amount of fun your dog will have!
Un-responsive dog? If your dog doesn’t come to the first person that calls him, you need to show him that you have treats, and be excited about it. Maybe give him a good smell of one, or even just give him one for free! Then back up and call him, and give another.
Your dog may at first be just focused on the first person that gave the treat, and ignore any other calls. This is where your dog seeing that everyone has treats. If you need to, start of with a small tight circle, so you can hand treats out easier, and slowly back up once your dog has got the idea!
If you play this game out doors, starting in a small group then slowly spreading out, this can also be great exercise for your dog.
This game can be really great fun for you and your dog.
2. Treat Hide-and-Seek
We have mentioned this treat game before, and it’s such a favourite of ours. It’s really easy to do, and you can play it at home. In fact, you can easily play this every day, and it can become a great bonding game your dog looks forward to playing with you.
How to do it: Give your dog a sniff of the treat so you have his attention.
Have your dog sit and stay somewhere out of the way. (If your dog isn’t great at staying, start including it in his training, read here for why).
Place the treat down somewhere in their line of sight (you want to make the game easy at first), then give the command “find it”, or something suitable, to release him. He will more than likely go right to the treat and eat it, but this is good, you are teaching him the game.
Repeat the process, but put it a bit further away. Do this a few time until you are confident he understands the command “find it”.
Now start hiding the treat. Start somewhere easy, for example in the same room, and work your way up to more difficult hiding places. If your dog seems good at the game, you can even start hiding the treat in a different room. Eventually your dog will get used to the game, and look forward to playing it!
Tip: When hiding the treats, watch to see how fast or how slow your dog takes to find them. If you hide them too well, your dog may get bored, or not understand the game. If he finds them too easily, up the stakes a bit!
Depending on how quickly your dog learns, you may be able to add to the game by using “warmer” or “colder” when he gets close or moves away from a hidden treat. This is a great way to interact with the game and get your dog looking to you, as master, for a bit of direction.
This is a great game to play when you are leaving your dog at home along. As long as you play this plenty when you are home, you can use this on days you are out too. Just before you leave the house, hide some treats around the room(s) your dog is allowed in when you are out. As you walk out the door, tell him to “find it”, or whatever command you give. This won’t keep your dog entertained for any great length of time, but it’s a good distraction, and may help teach your dog that when you leave, it’s not so bad. Just don’t hide the treats under anything that your dog may feel he needs to rip apart to get to! For more entertainment ideas to keep your dog happy while you are out, click here.
3. Treat Fetch
Some dogs love to chase things when they are out, be it a ball or a bird. Some other dogs love to use their nose and sniff things out when they are out on a walk. But some dogs love doing both!
Treat Fetch is very rewarding for your dog, not only due to the treat, but because he gets to chase something and sniff it out.
How to do it: You can do this in your garden or out on a walk in an open area like a field. Get a good sized treat (something that won’t disappear into the grass), maybe a coin sized dog biscuit. Let your dog sniff the treat, and throw it a short distance, so your dog can see what direction it went. He probably won’t be able to see it at first, but he will no doubt have great fun sniffing it out!
As with all games, start off easy so he doesn’t get bored, and can pick the game up quicker.
Once he has grasped the idea, you can start throwing the treat a bit further.
This game is great for dogs who love food, as it also helps them work off the energy from the treat before they have even eaten it!
Tip: It is important that your dog doesn’t pick up and eat something that he shouldn’t. You don’t want your dog swallowing something that he can choke on, or that is poisonous. Always keep a close eye on your dog, and it’s always a good idea to train your dog to leave anything he find on a walk. Give your dog a sniff of the treat before you throw it so he knows what he’s searching for. You can also train your dog to find the treat and to sit by it until given the go-ahead to eat it. Read how in our training section!
4. Treat Ball
Nope, not just a massive round treat. Although I’m sure your dog would love that!
We are of course talking about toys in which you can stuff treats. Why are these great? Dogs love playing with toys, but usually they require someone to play back with them – i.e. you prying it off them and then throwing it, over and over. Treat Balls/Toys will keep your pooch entertained even when you are sat watching TV. We like the round toys, as they tend to roll away from your pup easily, meaning she then has to chase it. Other shapes are also great to. We also love odd shaped ones as they bounce in all sorts of random ways, keeping your dog on her ‘toes’!
How to do it: It’s pretty self, explanatory, but here goes: Find a suitable treat toy. You can buy all kind of treat toys (click here for some ideas), but some will be more suitable than others, depending on things like the size of your dog, the size of the treats, what kind of material the toy is made from (i.e. some are tougher than others) etc.
Get some of your dogs fav treats, and stuff the toy with them. Again, some treats are more suitable than others. For example, try stuffing a toy with cheese and it may just turn to mush and be impossible for your pooch to get out!
5. Treat Puzzles
There are plenty of games and puzzles on the market that can be great fun for your dog, and especially good for those dogs who like to think. These help to exercise their brain and keep them out of trouble!
Some treats puzzles include ones your dog has to spin, flip, lift or twist to get the treats out. These get your furry friend to be inventive to work out how to obtain the treats. Just keep an eye on your pup while she is playing with these. Some dogs resort to destroying the toy as the best way to get the treat out! Click here for some great toy ideas.
6. Home Made Treat Toys
Want some ideas how to same money and make your own treat dispensing toys? We have a great article here.