Finding fun things for your kids to do with the family dog can sometimes be a challenge, especially when it comes to safely getting children actively involved in the joys and responsibilities of caring for a pet.
One of the first and important considerations is what is the correct amount of age-appropriate responsibility to give your kids. You must keep it fun for the kids and the dog alike to ensure that they all want to continue hanging out together and build the bond that we all dream of when we invite a dog into our family.
So here is a list of games that can help teach the basics of responsibility to kids whilst they have some great fun at the same time – all with the family dog.
- Who doesn’t love a Treasure Hunt!
Treasure hunts are always. Not only for the kids to set up, but for everyone watching on as your dog starts to have a great time following the scent and finding the “treasure”. This can be a great fun way for your dog to get its breakfast or dinner. It’s a great way to provide environmental enrichment for your dog and can help aid with digestion with the dogs that scoff their food too.
Depending on the size of your dog and it’s enthusiasm for food, you may want to have your dog inside as you kids go out and hide the treasure (this can help prevent your dog from jumping or accidentally knocking your kids over with excitement).
If this is the first time your dog has ever gone on a treasure hunt, you will need to make sure it’s not too difficult – think along the lines of setting a treasure hunt up for your kids, it’s only fun if they actually find the treasure.
When safe to do so, have your kids take a cup (or appropriate amount of food depending on your dogs’ requirements) out into the garden and start laying a track for your dog to follow. To start off, you could have your kids place a piece of food down at every step. As your dog starts to understand the game and becomes better at using it’d nose to track each piece of food, you can get the kids to gradually spread the food out to every, 2nd, 3rd step etc.
- Make a DIY Dog Toy.
Our DIY Dog Toy is a great way to get the kids involved with sharing the responsibility of being in a family with a dog. You can have the kids be apart of the building process, from selecting the parts, marking out the holes with a text through to filling the toy with food.
- Food Fetch and a game of catch.
Food fetch and having your kids teach your dog to catch food always brings smiles and the sound of laughter. Make sure your dog won’t accidentally knock your kids over with excitement. Have your kids toss (underarm) a piece of food for your dog to try and catch. If they toss one piece at a time, this also can help with digestion with those dogs that hoover and scoff their food and gives them (the dog) a chance to catch the food. If your dog already knows how to catch food, you can get your kids to start tossing the food for your dogs to have to run and catch it. There are many ways you can change this game up so it’s fun for the kids and the dog.
You could have your kids try and through each piece of food into the dog’s bowl one piece at a time. This is a great coordination game for your kids as well as having them contribute to the care and feeding in a fun way of the family dog. You can encourage your kids to count each piece that they toss and if you have two or more children, you can have them count and divide the pieces of food up evenly and then take it in turns to toss the food.
All three of these games are fun for everyone including the dog whilst having the benefits of teaching responsibility in a way that is successful for kids to take part in. Use your imagination as to how many other great and fun lessons you can add to these games. You may be able to turn it into a race for example; you could have your kids set the treasure hunt up and have your kids complete a task at the same time as the dogs start and see who’s faster. EG: Can you make your bed faster than the dog can find and eat all the treasure you hid? Or maybe even have them clean out their school bag whilst the dog plays with our DIY Dog Toy – who can do it faster?
So this weekend you can head off to the local hardware store, buy some PVC pipe and spend the morning with the kids being productive and building stuff or have them play outside whilst they set up a treasure hunt for their dog.
Remember having a dog should always be fun and should build the best of our childhood memories, so set both the kids and the dog up for success and fun.
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