Romping with their litter matters that are how dogs in the wild learned what they needed to know and had fun. So practically every puppy you’ll meet will enjoy wrestling with another playful puppy or pouncing on a squeaky toy and play killing it with violent shakes of her head.
“All dogs are inquisitive and like to watch what’s going on around them,” says McKowen. So your dog will love a walk or jog to explore the neighborhood. Not only is it good exercise, but it will keep her mind alert and she can catch up on the local dog gossip, too.
Then there are activities for the more specialized tastes. “Just as people enjoy doing the things that they have a natural affinity for, whether they are ball games, music, water sports or art, dogs also enjoy the activities they were designed to do,” explains McKowen.
If full speed dashes are your dog’s cup of tea (or bowl of water), create a chasing toy by using a fishing rod with several feet of fishing line attached to a white plastic garbage bag. To give your speedster a good workout, all you have to do is twitch the bad to make it go in circles and change its direction as she gives chase. Let her catch the bounding “Bunny” and rip into it at times, so she knows she has a chance of winning.
Many dogs relish games of fetch or catch and will happily chase balls, Frisbees, sticks or the field dummies made especially for retriever training and drop them back at your feet. If retrieving is your dog’s favorite hobby, you could try her with swimming after sticks or floating toys.
Flying after Frisbees:
Some dogs find Frisbees the last word in fun, preferring them to balls and sticks, and they will perform amazing contortions to snatch them out of the air. Start low and slow, rolling the disk on the ground, gradually working up to aerial acrobatics.
Teach your dog to play hide-and-seek by getting one of her favorite kids in on the game. Get the child to hide in the closet with a treat in his hand and the door slightly opened, and then tell your dog to go find him. When she does, it’s time to reward her with the treat and lots of praise. If she has trouble at first, get the child to call her softly. When she understands the game, she’ll be ready to sniff out more challenging hiding places.
A delight on a warm day, swimming is loved by some dogs and hated by others. If your dog is a water baby, then she’ll like this exercise option. It’s easiest to enter from land than from a boat getting a wet dog back aboard can be a real challenge, unless she’s wearing a lifejacket with a handle on top, which you can use to lift her out. If you don’t plan on sticking to the shallows, a life jacket is a good idea so she can float if she gets tired. And when you finally coax her out, keep your distance while she gives a good shake.
Play killing might sound like an odd kind of sport, but for puppies it’s the last word in fun, and older dogs enjoy it too. It’s like hunting small prey, the closest city dogs get to the thrill of the chase and kill. Some canines can get hours of entertainment this way.
Hold a toy with a built in squeaker in your hand and squeeze it a couple of time to tease your dog. Then throw it. If your dog responds by pouncing on the toy and shaking it hard enough to scramble her brains, you’ve just discovered one of her favorite games. Don’t leave her alone with her toy, though. She could tear it apart and swallow the metal squeaker.