Festive fun! Games to play with your beloved pet over Christmas

Rens Hageman
Rens Hageman

Christmas day promises to paint treasured memories that will last a lifetime. It is a day to celebrate family and friends and the beloved pets who add so much joy and love to our hearts and to our homes. As you’re planning your Christmas celebration, don’t forget to include your pets.

Unwrap Gifts

Okay, so technically, unwrapping gifts isn’t a game. But, it sure is a lot of fun for kids and even adults. So imagine how much fun your pets will have tearing into their very own Christmas gifts. Don’t use too much tape on the paper so it isn’t difficult for your pets to open their presents. After your pets have opened their gifts, roll the paper into a ball and toss it across the room for an impromptu game of fetch.

Start a Game of Tug of War

All the excitement of the day might wear your dog out pretty quickly. A good game of tug of war can keep your dog interested and tire him out. Use an old rolled up sock or a rope to initiate the game. But, remember, don’t pull too hard because you don’t want to harm your dog’s teeth.

Play Hide and Seek

It’s a game everyone - both young and old, human and canine loves to play. Start a jovial game of hide and seek with your pets over Christmas. Start simple by hiding where your dog can easily find you then work your way up to harder spots when he gets the hang of the game.

Round Robin

Worn out from getting up early and a busy day of exchanging presents, chatting, and preparing dinner? Gather the family together in a circle, each holding treats for your dog, cat, or other pet. Take turns calling your pet’s name. If you call your pet’s name and he comes, reward him with a treat. It’s a great way to teach him to come when called and a game the whole family can play together.

Blanket Hurdles

While buying an outdoor agility course for your pooch would be ideal, not all of us have the money or space for it. Be creative and make a simple obstacle course inside your home with the help of a few everyday objects, like a couple of old blankets (or towels, whichever you prefer). Clear out enough space in the living room so your dog can run freely without hurting himself or your valuables. Place one or two rolled-up blankets on the ground (depending on how tall or agile your dog is). Walk your dog through the course and have him hop over the blanket a couple of times. Once he's got the hang of it, ask him to stay at one end of the room and then call him from the other.

He'll use the rolled-up blankets as a fun and safe hurdle. If you find that your dog is an expert at this game, mix it up and use a few more rolled-up blankets throughout his 'course'.

The Name Game

You may not think your dog can actually understand you, but he totally can. The key to word recognition is practice, practice, practice. Start off simple using two of your dog's favourite toys. Give them each a name. Make sure there are no other toys in the room to distract him. Now, call out the name of each toy. Try to keep the names basic, like "bear" or "cat." Say the name of one of the toys and throw it so he can fetch it. Repeat this a few times. Next, do the same with the other toy. Once you think your dog knows the name of both the toys, put them both on the ground and ask him to fetch one of them. Reward him with treats and praise every time he gets it right. Repeat this until you are certain your dog knows the names. If you have an extremely intelligent dog who easily gets both of the toys' names, try introducing a few more to his vocabulary.

Simon Says

This game is great for dogs who already know the basics: sit, stay, down, roll over, shake, etc. Grab some treats and test your dog on his ability to understand command after command. Make sure to mix up the order every once in awhile to really keep your pup on his toes.

Doggy Treat Hunt

It doesn't have to be Easter for your dog to play this egg-hunt inspired game. Grab his favourite smelly treats, either alone or stuffed inside a treat-holding toy, and hide them around the living room or garden. Make sure your canine companion is in another room so he doesn't see or smell the secret hiding spots. Then invite your dog into the room or backyard and watch him sniff away.

Frizbee Toss

Any dog can catch a tennis ball, but what about a Frisbee? It takes true agility and concentration for a pup to learn how to catch one of these flying discs. If your dog doesn't innately know to jump and catch the Frisbee in the air, start off small. Roll the Frisbee on the ground towards your dog. After getting over the strange object, he will instinctually want to grab it in his mouth. Once you've accomplished this, try tossing it - at a very low level first - to your dog. If you feel like your dog is ready to go to the next level, toss the disc a little higher and further, and so on and so forth. Frisbee may turn out to be his new favourite game!

And finally… take a Christmas Walk

Don’t forget to cap off your lovely Christmas afternoon with a long stroll through the neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights twinkling from windows and to allow you and your dog to enjoy the holiday with those you pass. A long walk also allows your dog to burn off some of his excess energy before he settles down for a Christmas night snooze.

(Article source: Various)

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