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4 Exciting Games To Play With Your Dog

4 Exciting Games To Play With Your Dog

Playing games with your dog isn’t just a way to prevent boredom or a chance for some exercise, it’s also a way to give your pet an outlet for their natural instincts. As social animals, playing with your dog is an essential way to teach them about relationships and communication, strengthening your bond with them.

Your dog’s personality determines what games they’ll want to play, so it’s worth experimenting with a few to see what they like. With that in mind, here’s four games that many dogs love!

1. Hide and seek

Hide and seek is a great game that makes use of your dog’s strong sense of smell. Dogs naturally use a combination of tracking and wind scenting to find you. That means they’ll sniff along the ground to find you as well as sniffing the air, and it’s a great chance for them to practice what their ancestors would have done to catch their prey.

This game is best played with two people. Get a friend to hold your dog while you hide somewhere else in the house, garden, or other safe area outside where your dog can’t get lost or hurt. Once you’ve hidden, call for your dog. If it’s the first time you’ve played, you may need to call them more than once. As soon as they find you, reward them with a treat and lots of praise!

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2. Searching games

A variation on hide and seek that offers another chance for your dog to practice their tracking skills is to teach them to hunt for their favorite toy. Make sure you choose a toy they’re especially fond of though, or they may not want to join in, and you’ll have to retrieve it yourself!

Start by teasing your dog with it, and while they’re watching, throw it into some long grass, or if you’re indoors, behind some furniture. Just remember not to throw it anywhere you don’t want your dog to go – aiming at a priceless ornament or throwing the toy into your prized flowerbeds is not a good idea! Then encourage them to start searching – ask them where it is in an excited voice.

After playing a few times, your dog will start to understand what to do, and you can make things harder by not letting them see where you hide the toy.

Some dogs aren’t interested in toys, but with some slight changes they can still have fun with this game. Why not try hiding their favorite dog treats instead?

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3. Tug of war

Many dogs find tug of war very exciting; however, many owners can be wary of encouraging it, as they think it will encourage the dog to become controlling and aggressive. This could lead to your dog trying to play the game at inconvenient times. The truth is, you can control their behavior by ensuring you instigate the games, meaning you’ll set the rules, not them.

Start by telling your dog to “take it” in an excited voice, while moving the toy towards them. Wait for your dog to take hold of the toy, then keep their interest by moving the toy around, side to side, back and forth.

After a while, stop tugging by saying “leave” once without repeating, move your hands to your sides and don’t speak. Your dog may continue tugging, but will eventually release. Once your dog has let go, you can pause the game and then start again. This teaches your dog that they can only play once invited to, and that they must stop when your hands are still and close at your sides.

For stronger dogs, it can be easier to end the game by holding their collar before letting go of the toy, which reduces their excitement and competition for control over the toy. Again, this teaches them that they must stop playing when you touch their collar.

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You can also stay in control of your dog by occasionally stopping and restarting the game, but only removing the toy entirely when you’ve finished. If your dog attempts to grab you or snatch at the toy without invitation, then immediately go still and quiet. Both these methods reinforce the fact that you decide when they can play, not them.

4. Chasing and retrieving

Chasing and retrieving is another great game for dogs. Most dogs love to chase toys, but not all have learnt to bring it back. You can train them to do this by teaching them how to hold the toy first.

Offer your dog the toy and then pick it up – you may find they’re more likely to pick it up if you roll it across the floor in front of them. Then, praise the dog for holding the toy, but only give them a treat if they drop the toy by your feet or in your hand.

The next step is to run backwards as your dog picks up the toy, so they have to follow you to get their treat. Keep practicing this, and occasionally throw the toy, but only allow your dog to fetch it once it’s come to a standstill.

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After repeating this over a few days, you’ll have trained your dog to realize they’ll get their treat only if they drop the toy in your hand or at your feet.

Featured photo credit: Lucian Venutian via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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