The Games Dogs Play

Callie Golden Retriever seems pretty good at making up her own games.  The trick is for me to go along with her and try to figure out what the game is supposed to be.  It’s great fun, though, and I know Callie appreciates getting to call the shots sometimes.

Our favorite game, of course, is our daily soccer game.  Callie tracks me down every evening and gives me her intense, “let’s play soccer now!” look.  This started over four years ago when Callie was just eight weeks old, so it’s totally Callie’s game.  Now, as a full-grown Golden, she’s learned to leap several feet in the air and “bonk” the ball off her nose.  See some fun video of Callie doing “nosers” in the video section of our web site.

The other day, Callie presented me with “Smokey” a “Smokey the bear” golf club cover that Callie has adopted as a favorite toy.  I held out my hand and tried to figure out what Callie wanted me to do.  She gave me “Smokey,” but then she took “Smokey” back right away.  That went on for about five minutes.  So Callie’s game with “Smokey” was “give and take,” “I’ll give “Smokey” to you, then you give “Smokey” back to me, then I’ll give “Smokey” back to you again, and we’ll keep doing it.  OK?”  I could tell it was very satisfying for Callie that I went along with her game.

Then, the next day, Callie brought me Trojan, another golf head cover in the form of a white horse.  (Fight on!)  This time, the game was a little different.  Callie presented Trojan to me, but she didn’t let go.  But she didn’t pull it away from me, either.  This time we played “Let’s hold this together for a while!”  Again, I could tell Callie appreciated getting to decide what game we were going to play.

Play is a natural part of a dog’s life.  Left to their own resources — at least sometimes — a dog will invent its own games.  Sometimes it’s interactive play.  Sometimes it “doggie solitaire.”  An important part of the dog-bonding experience can be letting your dog make up the rules sometimes.  You will be amazed at how much your “best friend” appreciates being in charge, even if it’s just for a few minutes!