I enjoy hearing about how other people play with their dogs. Dogs, of course, love to spend time with us, and are usually up for any type of game. These games go way beyond the old standby, fetch. Some of them are amusing, others quite inventive.
My husband plays a game with our Lab that's adapted from a game often played with children. He makes a "mouth" out of his hand and holds it at arm's length, about 2.5 feet away from Boudain's face. Slowly opening and closing his hand, he lets it creep closer and closer to the dog. At some point, when his hand is about 18 inches away, he grabs her with the hand, trying to surprise her. She doesn't know which way the hand will go. Will it "bite" her on the chest? The neck? The shoulder? Being a very soft-mouthed dog, she likes to see if she can thwart the attack by stopping it with her open mouth. She can play this game for hours.
Naturally, this game is only appropriate with a dog who understands the pack hierarchy and is submissive. We've played this game for six years with Boudain and she's never "learned to bite" because of it. She knows we're playing. She doesn't exhibit any signs of frustration, never challenges us and always has submissive body language.
Our collie likes to play defense when we're playing fetch with the Lab. She chases the ball and brings it back. He tries to prevent her from coming back. He doesn't want the ball. He just wants to chase her when she's got it. It's a great way to exercise both dogs at once.
I once had a Dachshund who played hide-and-seek with the object of his obsession: the Ball. I could hide it in another room, high up on a closet shelf or behind the television. When I called him into the room, he used his nose to find it. I'm not kidding. He could find that ball no matter where you'd put it. It started as a way to wind down a game of fetch. I'd tuck it somewhere when he wasn't looking, like the pocket of a jacket. But soon, he'd be sitting under the jacket, looking up at the pocket as only a dog who wants a ball can do. Soon, it was a parlor trick. I'd take Shakey upstairs and ask a friend to hide the ball. I'd let Shakey come down and before long, there he'd be, digging up the sofa cushions or standing up with his paws on the oven door, exactly where the ball was. It was kind of creepy, actually. There wasn't a single place in a three-story townhouse where I could hide a ball from this 10-lb dog.
Other people have told me cute stories about games they play with their dogs. They sing together with their dogs. They play "Find the Biscuit" or "The Risky Business Slide" on linoleum or hardwood floors. The Mindy 500 was a trench my uncle dug in the snow during long New Hampshire winters so the dog could get some exercise and do her business outside. It went all the way around the house, and Mindy, a Westhighland Terrier, would rip around the trench at full speed. I'd love to have video of that one.
I'd love to hear what games people are playing with their dogs. If you have one that's a little different, post it here so we can all enjoy it. Who knows? We might start playing your game ourselves!