Tug of war or find the treat are two common and preferred games that 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 teaching it how to play the game with treats. After he/she is familiar with the game, it will gradually start to play by itself.
Note that dogs will play by themselves if they are taught well and at the correct stage.
In this article, we will discuss the steps it takes to teach your dog to play alone without the need for a companion or a helping hand. Also, we will 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, 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 parties. Usually, it involves a sizeable ball (preferably a tennis ball) and an open field. The basics of the game are to catch 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
- At first, you need to play with the dog for a few days/weeks before leaving him/her to play by itself
- When outside, lob the ball around and make sure it rolls on the ground (making sure the dog notices it)
- Let the dog chase after it and try to grab it with its mouth
- Repeat the process over and over again until he/she is accustomed to the game
- Now, let it play around with the ball even when you are indoors and monitor his/her progress keenly (do not let him/her see you peep through the window)
- After a few days, you should notice that he/she is 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.
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 abilities.
Most dog brain games are uncomplicated and can be taught easily. Your dog will quickly start to play by itself, meaning that you will not need to worry when you leave him/her alone.
How To Teach A Dog To Play Tennis Ball Container Alone – Step By Step
- 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
- Insert treats inside the container and tightly lock the container opening. Treats include dog biscuits and Scooby snacks (depending on what your dog likes)
- Leave the container and your dog in the living room where there is enough playing space
- Your dog will be looking forward to rolling the container around to get the treats out
- If you later notice that he/she had a difficult time 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 is mentally stimulating for your dog playing alone.
3. Tennis Ball And Aluminum Muffin Baking Tray Puzzle Game
Puzzle games are also other exciting games that can help in gauging the intelligence of your dog. 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 are looking for something to occupy the dog as you run a few errands or you 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
- Take a 12 Cups Iron Nonstick Cupcake/muffin baking tray plus a few treats and a few tennis balls
- Fill a few holes (start by filling seven holes, then later reduce the number) with its favorite dog treat
- Cover all the holes with the tennis balls
- The ultimate idea is to let your dog figure out which hole has a treat and access it
- Let him/her struggle by itself and learn during the process
- Some dogs will 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 is an exciting game that can occupy even the 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 size 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
- Take five cones/plastic cups and overturn all of them
- Place three treats randomly under three overturned cones/plastic cups
- Let your dog struggle to overturn the cones and access the treats as you monitor keenly. If he/she successfully manages to access the treats, then it can be another exciting game that is added to your list of fun games
- 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, he/she can play by itself without being monitored keenly.
Even without having to lay treats underneath the cones, your dog will always be playing around with the cones/cups whenever it sees them lying around the floor (she will be assuming 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
- Cut two sizeable holes on both ends close to the mouth of the bottle
- Take the string and slide/thread it through one hole until it comes out through the other hole (the string should balance the bottle in an upright position)
- Tie both ends of the string to the drawer knobs so that the bottle securely balances upright
- Do not tie the string plus the bottle too high or too low
- Load a few Scooby snacks inside the bottle as your dog is watching (dogs are intelligent creatures. So, she should notice how the treats go inside the bottle)
- Let her sniff the bottle and try to get the treats out. If she is having a bit of trouble, assist her once in a while until she understands how the process is done
- 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
Teaching your dog to play alone helps kill the boredom and reduce excess energy. Hyper dog breeds like the Australian Shepherd or the Jack Russell Terrier can benefit immensely with early training and coaching.
The above five games are cheap alternatives that can be attempted at home without purchasing any expensive accessories. All the materials discussed can be recycled material or old & useless materials.
Do not leave behind chock-able 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.
Purrfect n’ Pawesome is the brainchild of Amanda, who has been into researching and writing about pets to help other pet parents in nurturing their adorable pets. Currently, she runs Purrfect n’ Pawesome along with her team of experienced and dedicated pet experts. Along with being an awesome writer and entrepreneur, Amanda is a cat mom to two innocently spoiled cats, Balanca and Scruffy.
She has been writing about pet care and nurturing and wants to share her readers’ experiences, learnings, and knowledge.
Over the years, she had the opportunity to work with various pet owners having multiple breeds, and that exposure gave her experience and the lessons of a lifetime.
Her family, her entire universe revolves around her two cats, who give her endless support and inspiration to move ahead with her objectives in life. Amanda is a live example of a balanced approach to all parenthood questions we all face in life.