How To Teach A Dog To Play Alone? [5 Games You Can Teach Your Dog Today]

How to teach a dog to play alone

Tug of war or find the treat are two common and preferred games you can play with your hound. However, there will also be a time when your dog needs to entertain itself when you are busy at work or not at home.

When this time comes, many pet parents and dog lovers will ask the bewildering question, “Can my dog play alone and cause minimum damage?”

The answer is yes. With the right training, the dog will play by itself, not causing damage in the house.

First, to teach a dog to play by itself, it’s best to start preparing it how to play the game with treats. After they are familiar with the game, it will gradually begin to play by itself.

Note that dogs will play by themselves if they are taught well and at the correct stage.

This article will discuss the steps to teach your dog to play alone without needing a companion or helping hand.

We will also look at how to teach your dog the different kinds of games it can play by itself.

Types Of Games Your Dog Can Play By Itself

First and foremost, for a dog to play by itself, there must be many toys around it.

These toys can include a tennis ball, a Kong Rubber Flyer, a Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mat, and a Diggity Dog Muttini Bar Collection, among other safe toys.

See also: Best 10 Dog Chew Toys (Review)

Below are five games, plus simple guides that you can help teach your dog to play by itself without difficulty.

1. Chase The Ball Around

This is an exciting game that is easy to teach and can be played by either two or one party.

Usually, it involves a sizeable ball (preferably a tennis ball) and an open field. The game’s basics are catching the ball as it rolls on the ground.

Most dogs prefer bigger and bouncy training balls like soccer balls.

How To Teach A Dog To Play Ball Chasing Alone – Step By Step

  1. At first, you need to play with the dog for a few days/weeks before leaving them to play by itself
  2. When outside, lob the ball around and make sure it rolls on the ground (making sure the dog notices it)
  3. Let the dog chase after it and try to grab it with its mouth
  4. Repeat the process over and over again until they are accustomed to the game
  5. Now, let it play around with the ball even when you are indoors and monitor their progress keenly (do not let them see you peep through the window)
  6. After a few days, you should notice that they are comfortable playing with the ball alone

Note: If she starts showing signs of understanding the basics of the game, you need to reward her good efforts. These rewards are a clear indication to her of a job well done, and also assist in the process of learning to play lone.

Chase the ball around is a physical exercise game.

Teaching your dog to play by itself

2. Tennis Ball Container Brain Game With Treats

Brain games are a great way to teach your dog to play a few problem-solving challenges alone.

The tennis ball container game can be played by any dog breed of any size and physical ability.

Most dog brain games are uncomplicated and can be taught easily.

Your dog will quickly learn and start to play in no time, meaning you will not need to worry when you leave them alone.

How To Teach A Dog To Play Tennis Ball Container Alone – Step By Step

  1. Using an empty colorless tennis ball container, cut small size holes (4 or 3, depending on the size you have) at the center section of the container’s stem. We prefer colorless containers because dogs get interested in what they see and smell.
  2. Insert treats inside the container and tightly lock the container opening. Treats include dog biscuits and Scooby snacks (depending on what your dog likes)
  3. Leave the container and your dog in the living room, where there is enough playing space.
  4. Your dog will look forward to rolling the container around to get the treats out.
  5. If you later notice that they had difficulty getting most of the treats out, you should add more treats inside the container.

Note: The tennis container brain game is a simple yet “puzzling” brain game for your dog, and is another game that can successfully occupy your dog without worry of leaving him/her home alone

The tennis ball container game mentally stimulates your dog to play alone.

3. Tennis Ball And Aluminum Muffin Baking Tray Puzzle Game

Puzzle games are other exciting games that can help gauge your dog’s intelligence.

The muffin baking tray puzzle game is a fun-filled game that can also be played by any dog breed of different sizes simply.

This game is ideal if you want something to occupy the dog as you run a few errands or are at work.

Below is a step-by-step guide to teaching your dog how to play the game.

How To Teach A Dog To Play Puzzle Games Alone – Step By Step

  1. Take a 12 Cups Iron Nonstick Cupcake/muffin baking tray, a few treats, and a few tennis balls.
  2. Fill a few holes (start by filling seven gaps, then later reduce the number) with its favorite dog treat.
  3. Cover all the holes with the tennis balls
  4. The ultimate idea is to let your dog figure out which hole has a treat and access it.
  5. Let them struggle by themselves and learn during the process
  6. Some dogs tip the whole tray with their legs or mouth to get the entire game over. So, you need to find a solution and discover a way to make the tray not tip over

Note: This exciting game can occupy even hyper dog breeds. You can find many DIY guides that will help you in case you want to increase the game challenge.

If you do not have a muffin baking tray, you can use an ice cube tray and smaller plastic balls (1.57-inch plastic balls)

4. Cones/Plastic Cups Puzzle Game

If you are looking for a fun-filled game for your puppy/smaller dog to play alone, the plastic cup/puzzle game is an ideal choice.

This dog puzzle game is uncomplicated and extremely easy to understand. You can use old plastic cones or old plastic cups, plus treats to help stimulate your dog.

How To Teach A Dog To Play Cups Puzzle Game Alone – Step By Step

  1. Take five cones/plastic cups and overturn all of them
  2. Place three treats randomly under three overturned cones/plastic cups
  3. Let your dog struggle to overturn the cones and access the treats as you monitor keenly. If they successfully manage to access the treats, then it can be another exciting game that is added to your list of fun games
  4. To make the game more interesting and challenging, you can use heavier cones/old cups that will not overturn easily

Note: Once your dog understands this game, it can play alone without being monitored keenly.

Even without having to lay treats underneath the cones, your dog will always play around with the cones/cups whenever it sees them lying around the floor (she will assume that there are treats underneath the cones).

5. Plastic Bottle And String Intellectual Game

The plastic bottle and string game is not only an exciting game that you can teach your dog to play alone. This game teaches your dog intelligent ways of getting problems solved.

The inexpensive and straightforward to-assemble accessories can all be accessed inside your kitchen.

The tools you need: A 1.5-liter plastic drinking bottle, a string, a few treats, and a guide

How To Teach A Dog To Play Plastic Bottle And String Game Alone – Step By Step

  1. Cut two sizeable holes on both ends close to the mouth of the bottle
  2. Take the string and slide/thread it through one spot until it comes out through the other hole (the string should balance the bottle in an upright position)
  3. Tie both ends of the string to the drawer knobs so that the bottle securely balances upright
  4. Do not tie the string plus the bottle too high or too low
  5. Load a few Scooby snacks inside the bottle as your dog is watching (dogs are intelligent creatures. So they should notice how the treats go inside the bottle)
  6. Let her sniff the bottle and try to get the treats out. If she is having a bit of trouble, assist her with how the process is done
  7. Repeat the game as often as you like, and after a few weeks, your dog should now be able to play by itself, even without putting treats inside the bottle

At what Age Should Dogs Start Playing With Toys Alone?

Dogs begin to play with objects when they are 4 and 5 weeks old.

At this age, it is important to introduce all the toys and playing objects you intend to train your dog with.

After puppies understand the toys around them at 8 to 12 weeks of age, you should introduce the concept of fetch to your dog.

This concept is a gradual process, and you should be patient with your dog as it learns how to play the game.

By the 7th and 12 months of age, your dog will have adapted to playing alone, and they are faster, stronger, and smarter when handling toys. 

Final Words

Teaching your dog to play alone helps kill boredom and reduce excess energy.

Hyper dog breeds like the Australian Shepherd or the Jack Russell Terrier can benefit immensely from early training and coaching.

how to teach your dog the different kinds of games alone

The above five games are cheap alternatives that can be attempted at home without purchasing expensive accessories.

All the materials discussed can be recycled material or old & useless materials.

Do not leave behind dangerous toys or loose ropes that prove hazardous to your dog.

Rawhides are good only if you are present when the dog is actively chewing and playing with them. You should not leave rawhides behind with your dog/puppy if it is unattended.