5 Training Games to Teach Your Puppy

Written by: Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA

Please note, I received compensation in exchange for this blog post. – Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA

New puppies have a ton of energy and are full of curiosity. That combination of energy and curiosity can be adorable and fun, but it can also allow them to get into trouble when they don’t have a positive outlet. To channel some of that energy for good, here’s how to play with your puppy to help tire your pup out while also helping to teach them manners and impulse control. Give them a try — they’re also a great way to bond with your puppy as you’re both getting to know each other!

  1. Hide & Seek
    Strengthen your dog’s response to his or her name by playing hide and seek. In this game, have someone distract your puppy while you hide in another room. Then excitedly call your pup and encourage them to find you. When your puppy locates you, have a celebration with lots of praise, petting, and/or treats. The whole family can get involved, and you can take turns having your puppy find different family members or friends in the house. This game helps exercise your dog on a rainy day with the added bonus of helping to teach them to come to his or her name!
  2. Trade this for that
    Puppies like to pick up everything in their mouth, so why not turn it into a fun game? This game can help teach your puppy to trade objects rather than play keep-away with them. To start this game, let your dog play with a safe toy he or she likes. Then go through these three steps:
    • Show a treat: Get your dog a tasty treat (like ORIJENTM Freeze-Dried Dog Treat ) and show it to your dog. The goal is that your dog will drop what he or she has in their mouth in order to get the more valuable treat you have.
    • Reward for release: Show the treat to your dog. Try to instruct them to drop the object in their mouth in order to get the treat. Then pick up their object and give them the treat. (Note: if your dog is growling during step 2, then toss multiple treats at them to encourage them to release the object they have. They can then eat the treats while you toss them further away from their object, allowing you to pick it up while they’re distracted).
      Give the original toy back to your dog and continue to play!
    • You can practice this with a wide range of toys, or any object (like a stick) your dog finds on their own. This game will help your puppy be more comfortable when you need to get something away from them. It also helps them learn that they’ll get something tasty before getting their toy back too!
  3. Kennel Up
    Teach your dog to willingly go into his crate with a game of Kennel up! All you need to do is open the crate door and toss treats into the crate. When your dog goes in to get the treat, reward him by tossing more treats in. Your dog will start to love their crate! As they get better, try sending him to the crate from a further distance. 
  4. Puppy Push-ups
    Once your puppy understands the basics of ‘sit’ and ‘down’, you can combine those two behaviors into a sequence of puppy push-ups! Use a treat to lure your dog into a ‘sit’, then lure him into a ‘down’ and back up to a ‘sit’ again. This is a great game for high energy dogs as it helps use up their extra stamina. As your pup gets better, see if you can get them to do a push up without using the lure (but still reward with a treat, praise or toy) when your dog gets it right.
  5. Tricks
    Tricks are fun for everyone in the family (including the dog)! Grab some treats and try to teach your dog to ‘spin’, ‘shake’, or ‘roll over’. Training tricks help you bond with your dog while having some fun. It’s also a great way to burn off some excess energy while your dog focuses on learning something new.

I hope these puppy games give you and your new pup something fun to do during the day, while allowing you to bond and teach them new tricks!

Robin Bennett is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). To learn more about her, visit her at www.TheDogGurus.com