Dog games are a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon indoors with your dog because they provide both you and your pup with free fun and entertainment while offering numerous bonding opportunities as you help your dog to figure out how to solve the challenges you’ve given him or her. But what happens when you have more than one dog? How can you still have fun bonding and playing dog games when your dogs may begin competing for your attention, affection – and perhaps guarding the food that you might be using for your games. In this article, I offer five suggestions for how you can still enjoy an afternoon of fun and games with not only one dog, but with your entire pack!
1. The obvious choice: Take turns. Playing dog games with more than one pup can provide wonderful opportunities for your dogs to practice patience and delayed gratification. I will often play games with both Tango and Sparky in the same room, but with one dog either in his or her kennel with a bone to chew on while I am playing a game with the other dog. Once the first dog has completed the challenge I’ve set out for him or her, then they switch places. This technique actually keeps the fun and excitement of the games fresh, because the other dog can anticipate – and watch and learn – while waiting for his turn!
2. Take turns with the help of a friend or family member. If your dog doesn’t do well waiting in his or her kennel and is just too distracting for the game to still be enjoyable, then you might want to invite a friend or family member to hold the other dog quietly until it is his turn, or take the other dog into another room with a great tug toy until it is his turn to play the game.
3. Play games with a friend or family member: A friendly competition. If you have a friend or family member who is interested in playing games with you and your dog, you can play two games with two dogs at the same time. In order to do this, ensure that you have enough space so that you can set up two games at enough distance apart from each other. You might even have a competition to see which dog can solve their challenge first – but remember, this is intended to be a friendly competition! Ensure that in your excitement you don’t start yelling or cheering loudly, as this will likely scare the dogs and spoil the fun.
4. Set up two games at once. For many of the games, I will simply set up two games: one each for Tango and Sparky. We live in a condo and we don’t have a large open floor space, but there is still plenty of space for the two dogs to play next to each other with very little interference from the other! This is a wonderful opportunity to help your dogs to mind their manners; if one dog finishes his or her challenge before the other, then he needs to be reminded to leave the other dog alone as she finishes solving her puzzle.
5. Keep things fair. Dogs are amazing people-watchers, and they notice every little thing that you do! Ensure that if you play a game with one of your dogs, that you play the same game with your other dog(s) and give equal time, love, energy, and attention to each of your pups.
Lori Friesen is a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is a published author and experienced educator, and is committed to understanding and nurturing the human-animal bond. Lori’s doctoral research explored how one class of grade 2 children experienced an animal-assisted literacy learning program. Her new book and DVD series, “My Doggy Genius: Over 50 Awesome At-Home Dog Games & Challenges” is a veterinarian and dog-trainer approved resource focused on helping pet owners give their dogs the very best life possible. For more information, visit her website: http://www.DogGamesAtHome.com
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