6 Puppy Games To Play With Your New Puppy

A German Shepherd puppy playing tug-o-war in a garden.

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Puppy games are fun ways to tire out your newly adopted fur baby while building the skills they’ll need to become socialized, obedient, friendly adult dogs in the future.

While puppies spend a good portion of their days sleeping, they can have lots of energy when they wake up, and puppy games can put that energy to good use.

Games for adult dogs may be too intense for puppies and often require knowledge of commands that pups haven’t learned yet. Puppy games, on the other hand, help build knowledge while tiring your young dog out and making sure they can be calm, relaxed, and well-behaved for the rest of the day.

When playing any games with your puppy, it’s important that you don’t overexert them, as this can cause injury and undo your training. Play sessions should last a few minutes and end before your puppy gets bored and uninterested. Keep them having fun and learning, and they’ll be much happier and ready to play again later on.

Here are six puppy games that will help your new pup learn how to play.

1. Tug-Of-War

Chihuahua puppy play game with rope toy in woman hand on a green grass

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Now is a good time to start teaching your puppy what’s okay to chew on and what isn’t. Tug-of-war is a game most dogs naturally play, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting started.

Make sure you use a toy that is only for playing tug-of-war. Do not use socks or other objects that might confuse your dog about what they can play with. If your dog tries to pick up something that’s not a toy, the game should end immediately so they learn that this isn’t acceptable.

This is also a great way to start teaching your puppy the command, “Drop it,” or, “Leave it.” Wait for them to drop the toy on their own. This may take a while, but be patient. Once they do, reward them with a treat.

Once they start to get the idea that dropping the toy earns them a treat, start associating the command with the behavior. Your puppy will probably not learn this perfectly in one sitting, and it may take some time, but it’s a mental and physical exercise that will burn off puppy energy.

Just don’t let these sessions go on too long or your puppy will get bored and start to lose what they’ve learned.

2. Hide And Seek

Toy Terrier who hid in the chest.

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Hide and seek can be a fun game to play with other people, toys, or treats.

Try having one person hold your puppy while you go and hide. Then, once your puppy is set loose, call their name. See if they can find you.

You can use this game to get your puppy used to the command, “Come,” as well as teaching your puppy their own name.

You can also hide your dog’s toys or treats and give them the command, “Find it.” Doing this can get them used to doing nose work, and it can provide a lot of mental stimulation.

This will definitely tire them out and help them nap more easily.

3. Fetch

A 7 year old boy playing fetch with his sheltie puppy in the park. The child is holding a ball and is about to throw it for the dog to retrieve.

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Fetch is a classic game for dogs, but you’ll need to take it a bit easier for puppies.

First, choose a toy that’s small and soft enough for them to pick up and carry. Start with short distances, and you may need to walk alongside your puppy so they can learn that they’re supposed to run after the toy if they don’t do so on their own.

Call them back to you enthusiastically and provide plenty of treats and rewards for a job well done.

This is another game where you can practice the command, “Drop it.”

4. Sprinkler Games

Young labrador retriever playing with water from sprinklers

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Running outside in the sprinkler is a fun way of getting your puppy used to playing and being in water. This may be useful later on when you want to make bath time a less stressful experience.

Help your puppy acclimate to splashing and chasing toys through the sprinklers. Eventually, you may want to try introducing them to a kiddie pool, but make sure there’s only an inch or two of water to start out with.

As they begin to understand that water is fun, you can practice with slightly deeper water so they can get accustomed to swimming and bathing.

5. Learn The Names

Brother and sister with puppy under blanket lying on rug at home

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This is a puppy game you can play with friends or family.

Have everyone sit in a circle with your puppy in the middle, then say a name of a person sitting down. Have that person call to your puppy at first and reward your pup for approaching.

Eventually, start saying names without having anyone call out. This will take some practice, but eventually your dog will start to learn the names of everyone in the group.

You can also start to do this with stuffed animals or toys and give your pup a great mental exercise.

6. Small Obstacles And Agility

Puppy Jumps onto Beach

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Full agility courses are for adult dogs, but your puppy will appreciate getting the chance to run around and learn some new skills, too. Just make sure you start out with smaller obstacles.

If you’d like your dog to eventually be able to jump hurdles, start with having your puppy step over a small object and reward them for doing so. You can have them climb a stair, go up and down a small ramp, crawl under tables, weave around furniture, or follow your lead.

All of these exercises are good ways for your puppy to learn the basics. As they grow, increase the difficulty of your obstacles and agility exercises, and eventually your dog will be prepared to compete or just have a nice, lifelong skill that will help them burn off energy and relax.

What other games would you recommend for puppies? Did your dog have a favorite puppy game when they were younger? Let us know in the comments below!

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