The daily walk is a critical part of keeping your dog healthy, not only for the physical exercise but also the mental enrichment and social benefits. It gives your dog the opportunity to enjoy the sights, smells and spending quality time with you.
Incorporating dog exercise games into your walk will have many benefits for both your dog and you. It can help to increase the intensity of the workout, provide more mental stimulation and enrichment and can be a great training opportunity.
The use of dog walking games helps to have your dog focus on you and not get distracted. This can help to fix leash pulling, reactive behavior and keeping your dog’s attention.
On your next walk to the dog park give some of these games a try.
This is a good way to get your dog more attentive to your movements and will help with leash pulling. This can involve changing the speed you are walking. Start to walk quicker or jog and give your dog a command such as “faster”. Then slow down giving a similar command such as “slowly”. Or you can stop and start much like a game of Red light, Greenlight. Your dog will quickly recognize the commands and will be more attentive to you.
Use your imagination and use different changes such as changing the side they are walking on or walk in a zig-zag or completely change direction.
Mix the changes up and make the length of each burst unpredictable meaning your dog will need to be aware of what you are going to do next.
Take toys with you
Take a favorite toy with you so you can have a game of something they like. This can be the old classic fetch or a quick game of tug of war. A frisbee or flying disc is a great toy for the park as it helps to burn off excess energy quickly. For more way to tire a dog quickly see here.
Invite a friend for your dog
If you know someone with a dog ask if they can come with you. Playing with another dog is also a great energy burner. It is also a great opportunity for your dog to socialize.
Change your route
One of the easiest ways to provide enrichment for your dog is to go to different places full of exciting and unfamiliar sights. If you are limited to the number of different places you can go, try mixing it up by walking the route back to front or walking on the other side of the road.
Tracking and scenting games
There are many simple nose games that you can incorporate into your walk. This can be something simple like playing Find it. Toss a treat or toy into some long grass or brushes and have them find it.
Or you can try some tracking games. An example of this would be to lay a trail of small treats with a larger bonus treat at the end as a reward. Show your dog where the trail starts At first lay small trails until your dog gets the idea of the game. As they become more proficient, increase the length of the trail or leave a bigger gap between treats.
For more ideas see “12 Scenting and Nose tracking games for dogs”
Urban agility or doggie parkour
Urban agility is where you use the normal surroundings to provide obstacles for your dog to run around, jump over or on to or crawl under. You can even use the playground or skateboard park as a source of obstacles.
Using your imagination you can turn the park into an obstacle course. Just be sure to ensure the activity is safe and within your dog’s ability.
If you have a dog that is very athletic you can try them with more advanced dog parkour type techniques. This can include walking along a narrow surface or even climbing a tree.
You will need three or more people for this one. Have each person grab a handful of treats and spread out. Then each person calls the dog and gives them a treat and lots of praise. As they get better at the game you can spread out more to make it more challenging and burn off some energy. This is a great game to perfect your dogs recall.
This is the classic kids game. Tag your dog and say “your it” and run away and encourage your dog to chase you. This will burn up energy for your dog and give you a bit of exercise at the same time.
Teach your dog how to dribble a soccer ball. Remember that biting and puncturing the ball is a penalty. An alternative is to get your dog a Jolly Ball. This is a hard plastic ball that your dog can’t puncture or pick up.
These are particularly popular with herding breeds and breeds like Pitbulls and Staffies. See Jolly Balls on Amazon.
Hide and Seek
This is pretty self-explanatory. Either put your dog in a sit stay position or have someone hold them. Then find somewhere to hide like behind a bush. Call your dogs name and let them find you.
Recall games are a great way to really master your dog coming on command. Coming on command is not a signal that it is the end of the interaction. It is just the start of the fun. This can include activities such as going through your legs or to circle around you.
Watch the video below for ideas on how this game works.
I hope you have discovered some ideas to incorporate into your dog’s walk. These are a good way to give further enrichment, burn some additional energy or as a training opportunity. If you know any other dog walking and exercise games feel free to mention them in the comments.
For more games and activities for dogs check out