3 Mentally Stimulating Games You Can Play While Walking Your Dog

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leash manners, leash training, mentally stimulating games to play while walking your dog

I have been saying this for years…. We humans are BORING.

Even though going on a walk is probably one of your dog’s favorite activities, the reason that it can become so frustrating for you is that your dog tunes you out and pays attention to everything else in his environment!

Dogs pull when they see squirrels.

He lunges at the neighbor’s dog behind the fence.

He tries to nip the ankles of the kid skateboarding past.

Does this mean your dog is aggressive?

Not necessarily!

Dogs get bored when we meander with them down the street.

Imagine for a Moment

Imagine for a moment how fast your dog moves, how fast he wants to walk down the street.leash manners, leash training, mentally stimulating games to play while walking your dog

Now, imagine how fast you walk, and how you probably dawdle down the street.

Dogs that are bored look for other things to do.

He is over-stimulated and over-experiencing his environment if you are not keeping his body and/or his mind busy.

When My Dogs Pull a Cart

When my dogs pull my trike or a cart, FAST (at their pace), they are too busy engaged physically to really notice anything else in their environment.

I once had a squirrel run out and in between my dogs’ paws, they barely even noticed because they were moving so quickly they were physically and mentally stimulated by what they were doing.

If they had been bored and noticed the squirrel coming they certainly would have grabbed him!

I suppose that not everyone can provide this level of mental and physical stimulation.

Mental Stimulation Games To Play While Walking Your Dog

The good news is that adequate mental stimulation is all you need in order to keep your dog’s attention on you!

1. The Recall Game

Coming when called is probably THE MOST important skill that you will ever teach your dog.

But people rarely take the opportunity to work on this while they are on a walk with their dog on leash next to them!

Why not condition the dog, often, that coming when called is a wonderful thing?

So while I am walking, with my dog in heel position or even at the end of the leash (I don’t allow any pulling) I begin to run backward while calling my dog to “come”.

I make it fun!

I prance, I praise and I reward handsomely if he responds quickly and in an animated fashion.

If I want to add more (and I always do!)  I get him to sit directly in front of me and then find heel again!

Puppy CWC

2. Push Ups

Ahhhhhh push-ups are one of my favorite exercises to entertain my dog’s mind and exhaust his body!

These don’t have to be done just at home in between my four walls!

leash manners, leash training, mentally stimulating games to play while walking your dogI love adding push-ups to a walk.

First, let me explain: when I say push-ups I am talking about having my dog “sit”, and then “down”, and then “sit” in rapid succession. And for a great video series on how to teach these basic commands, click here.

To sharpen my dog’s listening skills and obedience, while I am walking, I command my dog to “down” (hopefully while we are still in motion) and then I ask for multiple “sits” and “downs” before finally rewarding him with a tasty treat or his favorite toy.

3. Hide & Seek

Hide and seek is another great game to play on a walk or at the park, but you need two people!

One person should dart away and find a good hiding spot, while the other person distracts the dog (or lets him watch in the beginning).

Then the hiding person calls the dog to “COME” all while praising him as he tries to find his owner.

“Fury, COME!!!!  Good girl, Good girl, Good girl, COME”

You can’t call once and then hope that he is motivated to find you.

You must praise and motivate him until he finds you!

This is also a fun way to solidify that recall or come command that we talked about earlier!

“COME” should be FUN!

If you consistently work both of the recall games you will see your dog’s recall vastly improve!leash manners, leash training, mentally stimulating games to play while walking your dog

Your dog doesn’t have to be a scholar to play games while walking.

Even the youngest dogs and puppies can benefit from simply changing your pace from moderate to fast or to slow.  Changing pace keeps your dog stimulated and his focus on you!

Circles are also fun!  Throw in a circle to the left to keep your dog looking up at you and to teach him to get out of your way.

Throw in a circle to the right to motivate him to keep up with a faster pace.

Most people barely work on obedience while they have their dogs out for a walk.

Their intention is only to go from point A to point B and back while they think they are giving their dog exercise.  However, walking is not the best way to exercise your dog.

And, ironically this is one of the reasons dogs don’t listen to their owners while they are out of the house!

In order for your dog to listen to you while walking, you must work on training him while you are walking.

Forget just getting from point A to point B – work on leash training and play games!

Want To Learn More About “Leash Manners” Training Your Dog?

Check out our class, where we show you how you can teach your dog to have impeccable leash manners, even if right now, he’s out of control, always jumping on you during walks, or biting and tugging on the leash..

Click here to learn this “Leash Manners” training process





There are 12 Comments

  1. Allison says:

    I do hide and seek with my dog all the time, I love it. I should try the push up next time!


  2. i like to play ‘ditch my dog’ where i run in the other direction if her attention is elsewhere. you need a long leash for this. or i just turn around and walk in the other direction randomly during our walks. she is so fast at realizing and heeling again. i have been trying to work on sleepy face, but she is a pretty relaxed dog already, only on occassion is she overexcited about something, but that is when i need it! i would love to see different dogs doing the sleepy face. also the term “easy” if other owners hear it might set off their tense instinct, like ut-oh, what do you know about what is coming with your dog that you have to say that, so i use “relax” maybe there is a better word even. i find people’s energy shifts can cause a whole host of trouble for their dogs.


  3. Leslie says:

    Great article!!


  4. Kathleen Gee says:

    I’ve been doing the push-ups with Tucker for a long time now, without knowing it. He is so cute and funny going down sit down sit down sit. I think he likes it, too!!


  5. Dinah Wray says:

    Hide and seek to our almost 2 year old Sheltie is a survival must. I’m slowly training off-leash, but she’s too reactive to squirrels and bunnies to do it often actually off of the 20 foot leash. However, should she take off, and have no interest in coming when I whistle, I go into hide mode, and it’s not long until she realizes that I’m going /gone, and she comes running.


  6. Bonnie says:

    Love these ideas. I’ve done the push ups on occasion, but will now try doing them & the other exercises regularly. Thank you.


  7. Marilyn says:

    I play ‘come find me’ in the house with 2 dogs. It’s such fun! I will add it to the walk too. A recent trip to the heavily populated beach was an excellent opportunity to gain Daisy’s attention using circles and recall and change in pace. Her attention can be redirected with a blowing piece of fuzz.


  8. Joan Mathis says:

    This come/heel game is perfect for what Maxi and i need. She does not like to come immediately plus I’m trying to teach her the down command. She walks by my side beautifully when commanded, so there shouldn’t be too much for him to learn. I’ll let you know how long it takes with 3walks per day. Starting tomorrow…


  9. Bud Savoie says:

    While this is not exactly on point, as a retired lawyer I would like to offer a suggestion regarding the naming of a dog. You use the name “Fury” in an example. If Fury ever bites someone, the first question the opposing lawyer will ask you, the owner, in court will be “What is your dog’s call name?” And you have just lost the case. I can recall the sweetest Doberman I have ever met, whose name was Satan. Other dogs have been called Wolf, Devil, Killer, Tiger, Dynamite, Bear, Ripper, and–well, you get the idea.


    Minette Reply:

    She is named after a motorcycle. Not everything is as you see it 😉


  10. Caroline says:

    Great ideas, I used to play hide and seek with my lab when walking in field with straw bales to hide behind! Great fun until he started hiding from me!! Lol!!


  11. Ericka says:

    Good advice, my head old Lab is named after a puppet: Kukla (…Fran and Ollie. )


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