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Presumably you got your dog to enjoy his company and to have fun with him, but uncontrolled games can be too rough and often do little for your credibility as "The Boss"!

These games keep you in control (which can't be a bad thing!) and this helps to stop your dog getting over-excited when playing with you.

If he does get difficult to manage, don't punish him or tell him off, just stop the game until he calms down again. Games with rules make your dog use his brain as well as his body. He will probably be more tired after five minutes playing one of these games than twenty minutes "chase me for the ball" or a walk, so don't overdo it, especially when teaching a new game. Use plenty of rewards - titbits, toys or praise.

If you use titbits remember to deduct what your dog gets when playing from his daily rations or he'll get too fat to play anything! A good titbit to use is a piece of complete dog food since they are dry, non-messy, well balanced, and don't rot his teeth.

Teach one game at a time so as not to confuse your dog. Make all the games really easy to start with and progress slowly.

You can't go too slowly, and if you go too quickly you'll put the dog off. If you do meet problems, go back a stage or leave it for a few days and try again. Never get cross, keep it fun - these are games after all!


Hide and seek. Tell the dog to stay, and show a toy or titbit. Let him watch you put it under a cushion or behind a chair. Go back to the dog and tell him to "Seek". When he has the idea, pretend to hide it in various places around the room. Leave the reward in one of them (not necessarily the last one you go to) then tell him to "Seek".

If necessary go round with him till he gets the idea. Give lots of praise when he finds it. Make the game more difficult when the dog has the idea by using different rooms/places or shutting him out of the room while you hide the titbit. Find the person.

Get someone to hide, having first made it clear to the dog that they have a favourite toy, or a titbit with them. Make it easy to start with by letting the dog watch where they go. Tell the dog "Find Mum/Dad/Emma".

Again go with her if you have to till she gets the idea. Once she finds the person, she gets a game with the toy or is given the food. The game can get more difficult (using different rooms) as the dog gets better. Eventually you may want to discard the reward and just get her to find the person. Remember to reward her with lots of fuss though.

Retrieving. Don't let a game of "fetch" turn into "chase me for it" or "tug of war" - it's too easy for your dog to win these! You can teach this one by yourself, even as you watch TV! Offer your dog a toy, and as he mouths or sniffs it, say "fetch" and reward him with praise or a titbit.

Once he will touch the toy with his nose whenever you offer it to him and say "fetch", offer it again with the command, but don't reward him. He will be a bit puzzled and when you give the command again (straight away) he should be a bit keener to show you how clever he is; he will probably knock the toy with his nose or even take hold of it, and from then on this is the only action that gets the reward.

By working this way, very slowly and in stages, you should be able to get the dog from sniffing to nosing to taking hold of the toy on your command.

Never move to a new stage until you have 100% response on the present one. Once you have reached this stage, drop the toy and tell him "fetch"; he should pick it up. You can then throw the toy slightly further away each time and the dog should bring it back to you each time to get his reward.

Give plenty of praise and fuss once you have the toy so that it's clear your dog is being praised for fetching it back to you, not just for picking it up. Try any of the above on a walk or in the garden, once your dog is good at them.

Don't try the tracking games in the house or garden, as your scent will be everywhere!


You might need help from a dog trainer with these - ask at your local club. Tracking. Put your dog on a long lead, flexi-lead or rope, and use a fixed collar, not a choke chain. Tell him to stay, or get a friend to hold him.

Show him a toy, titbit or stick. Walk along backwards for about 20 yards, dragging your feet to maximise the scent trail, and holding the reward near the floor to encourage the dog to search along at ground level.

Try to keep your dog's attention but don't let him follow yet. Leave the reward at the end of your scent trail, and return to the dog along the same path. Tell him to "Track" and encourage him to sniff the ground where you walked until he finds the reward. Don't worry about him pulling on the lead.

When he has the idea you should be able to walk gradually more normally when laying the trail. Later try walking in different directions, first in an "L" shape, then in more complicated patterns. Keep him keen by making changes very slowly and make it easy for him to find the reward. Find the thimble (er.. toy).

It's best to teach the track before you try this game. When you are out, drop a toy without your dog seeing you, then continue walking for a few yards. Call the dog and tell her "Look back".

Encourage her to retrace your route (she should be able to follow your scent even if she didn't see exactly which way you went) until she finds the toy. Have a good game with it, and give lots of praise.

Try using a long lead or rope at first to help you keep the dog on the right track. After a while, increase the distance and make the object a little more difficult to find.

Don't throw it away from where you walked, though, or she won't be able to use your scent to find it.