Teaching Your Dog to Play

Play can be trained much like any other behavior. Today, I'll share with you some great resources you may find helpful in teaching your dog...


Play can be trained much like any other behavior. Today, I’ll share with you some great resources you may find helpful in teaching your dog various types of play (and also, because I know a few of my fellow behavior-nerd colleagues pop in and read the blog occasionally, I’ll throw in a few resources for you as well!). We’ll start out with a nice video from a great dogster featuring her lovely Jack Russell on teaching your dog to have interest in a frisbee:

This video from Zak George focuses on how to teach your dog to bring you things.

One of my favorite trainers, Emily Larlham of youtube “Kikopup” fame, also has a fantastic video available on how to train your dog to work for food and toys – this video is available for a small rental fee ($4.99 USD). Another great kikopup video that you may want to check out is tugging with your dog.

I’m also a big fan of youtube user “supernaturalbc2009” – here’s her video on Clicker Training a Bird Dog Retrieve to Hand Part I (and Part II: Finishing Touches.


The Clicker Retrieve Explained – a nice series on using a clicker to teach the behavior chain of fetch

Shirley Chong’s Retrieve

Susan Garrett’s How to Create a Motivating Toy

Teaching Your Dog to Play ‘Tug-of-War’

Games Dogs Love by Stacy Braslau-Schneck of Stacy’s Wag ‘n Train

Games to play with your dog from www.dogplay.com

Dog Training – one great workout that teaches your dog to fetch and come to you enthusiastically by Neil Sattin

Teach Your Dog to Play with Toys from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers


Learning Games by Kay Laurence

Play Together, Stay Together – Happy and Healthy Play Between People and Dogs by Karen London, PhD, and Patricia McConnell, PhD

Play with Your Dog by Pat Miller

*** Play-Training Your Dog by Patricia Gail Burnham

*** Schutzhund Obedience: Training in Drive by Gottfried Dildei and Sheila Booth

*** Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan


For my colleagues that just love this stuff.

Animal Play: Evolutionary, Comparative, and Ethological Perspectives by Mark Bekoff and John Byers

The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits by Gordon Burghart

Canine Fear, Aggression, and Play multiple disc DVD set by Jean Donaldson

Dog Play: Understanding Play Between Dogs and People dvd from Patricia McConnell

Canine Play, Including Its Relationship to Aggression dvd from Karen London

***There are definitely training techniques in these books which I would not recommend to my clients or use with my own dogs, but there are some great gems within each of these books. I’m especially a fan of the “fetch/tug” teaching method listed in “Schutzhund Obedience: Training in Drive” which is much like the method listed by Neil Sattin in the article above. It was the best method I found to teach Her Royal Chowness to retrieve and tug!

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