Posted by: Linda Trunell | December 1, 2013

Good Games & Bad Games

Last week my post was about playing tug with your dog.  This handout, courtesy of CAROL A. BYRNES “DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF” Training for Dogs & Their People, covers tug and more.

Please note: I don’t like the use of the terms “pack leader” or the “run for higher office”, but I agree with the concept that playing the “Good Games” is a great way to bond with your dog and to teach him impulse control while exercising his mind and body.  Playing with your dog is great – if you play the games the right way!

Good Games & Bad Games
fezplay Photo of “Fez” courtesy of LeeAnn Heringer

“Control the games, control the dog,” says British behaviorist John Rogerson.

Games can be a fun way to teach leadership and control.

Bad game: “Catch me if you can”                    You stomp, he runs – or worse, dog grabs something and you try to catch him to get it back. [ A possessive power trip for the dog, teaches him that he can out-run / out-smart / out-maneuver you. Makes him impossible to catch if he ever gets out! ]

Good game: “Hide and Seek”                          You hide and the dog searches until he finds you. [ Teaches the dog to come when called and how to find you when he can’t see you ] … or hide a toy or a biscuit and encourage him to find it – an excellent “scenting” game!

Bad game: “Tug of War” for keeps.                The dog wrestles the toy from you, sometimes growling, and wins, running off with the toy. [ A major power trip and confidence builder for your dog. Often turns into a “catch me if you can” game. ]

Good game: “Tug of War” on YOUR terms! You present the toy and invite the dog to play. You make all the rules! “Take it” “Pull!” “Out” The game begins and ends when you say so, and when the game is over, you keep the toy until the next game! [ A leadership exercise – use sparingly. In case of over-stimulation, the game ends abruptly. Teaches self- control. ]

Bad game: “Throw the ball!”                              Dog pushes his ball at you, staring intently, ordering you to “throw the ball !!!” and then snatches it just as you reach for it. When he does allow you to throw it, he dances around teasing you with it instead of delivering it to you. [ A power trip for the dog, teaches him that he can give you orders. ]

Good game: “Fetch”                                                You bring out the ball and invite a controlled game of “fetch” – the game becomes a training session: “sit” “wait” “get it” “bring it” “out” and you put the ball away until the next game! [ Pack leaders get to decide when and what the rules are, and when the game ends. Always stop when the dog would like to play longer. Leave him wanting more! ]

Bad game: Wrestling and play fighting.  OOPS! Encourages jumping up, mouthing, biting, chasing and pits the dog’s strength against the owner. A definite confidence builder. Teaches the dog he can “run for higher office” and win.

Good game: Tricks!                                          Exercise your dog’s mind! Teach your dog to sit up, roll over, shake hands, or even balance a biscuit on his nose!

Great game: Mind Games                            Build brain power! Teach your dog the names of his toys or names of family members. Teach him to deliver notes or find your car keys!

This handout courtesy of © CAROL A. BYRNES “DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF” Training for Dogs & Their People (509) 325-7833
ditr_training @ –

Here’s to being our dog’s best friend,



  1. Great post!!


    • Thank you for your comment. 🙂


  2. Great info. Always wonderful for people to learn the best of the bonding games to play with their dogs.


    • Thank you for visiting and commenting. 🙂


  3. As always, good info here. Wrestling and fighting are especially bad, but big dogs often like to do it, so well meaning owners fall into the trap of roughhousing with them. But, as you point out it reinforces about every negative behavior that you do not want in your dog.


  4. Thank you for stopping by! I appreciate your comment. 🙂


  5. Hide&Seek is a super game, it’s fun for all.


    • That’s my favorite! Tug is Max’s favorite but Hide & Seek is the next best game. 🙂


  6. Reblogged this on Dog Trainer In Training and commented:
    Some great games to teach your dog, your the leader, in a fun easy way!


    • Thank you, Katy!


      • Your Welcome! It was a great post!


  7. Excellent post, Linda! I love that you provide positive alternatives to games that dogs often love to play but that may not be the best for good dog-human relationships.


    • Thank you for following and commenting, Linda. I really enjoy your blog!



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