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Best games for puppies and children

dog training advice by AnimalKind trainers

Dog Partners trainers in Fernie and North VancouverNot sure how to involve kids and dogs in safe play?

Dog trainer Valerie Barry, owner and trainer at Dog Partners, brings part two of this puppy and kids series. If you are introducing a new puppy to your family and need some ideas for games for kids and puppies, this one is for you!

Let’s get reading!


Child-appropriate activities

Games that involve ways to train and reward at a distance are the best games for parents to play that can include young children. That way, tiny hands aren’t close to sharp puppy teeth.

Whenever you play any training games, keep the sessions short – 5 minutes or less. You want everyone to have fun and happily anticipate the next time they get to play.

father and child with hound puppy on family bed

Recall training game

Skill: coming when called
Benefit: coming when called is a critical skill for any dog.

  1. Child or adult can toss a treat away from them for the puppy to find and eat.
  2. Child or adult can call the puppy to come back after they’ve finished eating their treat.
  3. Child or adult can toss another treat away from them as the reward and then re-set for another repetition.

Handling game – Hands-On and Hands-Off

Skill: tolerance for handling
Benefit: teaches tolerance for being touched and handled

  1. The adult has a bowl of tasty treats and the puppy is unrestrained so they can make the choice to participate or leave.
  2. The adult cues the child, “Hands on!” for them to begin to pet the puppy in one specific spot, like the side of a shoulder, and then the adult immediately begins feeding the puppy continuous treats while the child pets.
  3. After 2 or 3 seconds, the adult cues, “Hands off!” and the child takes hands off the puppy and puts them down at their sides, and the adult stops feeding treats.
  4. Repeat.
mother and daughter with their dog Mylo after training graduation at Dog Partners
Photo by Valerie Barry

Fun games for older kids and puppies

As your children get older, you can start some targeting games where puppies can learn to move toward and touch a target like a target stick or a cone, then get rewarded with a tossed treat away from the target.

Another fun activity for older children is doing some trick training. There are online classes readily available, and many trainers teach in-person classes too. Children can even submit videos of their dog’s tricks to earn trick training titles, which is also rewarding and fun for kids.

When everyone is kept safe and everyone feels safe, then everyone has fun!

Learn some tips on how to safely introduce a new puppy to children.


Resources for puppy guardians