My Smart Puppy

with Dog Expert, Sarah Wilson

Good Games for Child and Dog


There are good games and bad games for dogs and children to play. Good games are safe for child and dog and build a fun relationship that enhances the dog’s respect for the child. Bad games create competition between the child and dog or encourage the dog to think of the child as a littermate that can be played with the way puppies play together.

Good Games

  • Fetch—If your dog likes fetch and doesn’t leap up at or attempt to grab the toy being held, this can be a good one
  • Trick Training—Some good tricks for children to train are:
    • Shake
    • Where’s your belly? (Bang)
    • Retrieve toys by name
    • And basic obedience like down, wait, sit – all of which can be fun for your child and useful for your dog.
  • Hide and Seek—this is fun and could be helpful if your child were to get lost
  • Find It—Child hides an object and tells dog to find it
  • Name that Toy—Child can teach dog the name of the dog toys

Games to Avoid

  • Tug—encourages competition, and teaches that grabbing and shaking = fun and that can cause canine confusion and then… terrible trouble. Often? No. But does that matter to you? (Girl, 6, Killed by Dog Pulling Her Scarf)
  • Chase—can escalate quickly into mouthing and jumping up.
  • Wrestling and roughhousing—encourages lack of respect for child’s space and  body

Remember, always supervise when young children and dogs are together. Help your child get started with these games, and watch the joy and laughter fill your home as your child and dog have fun together.

by Melissa Fischer,

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