1 - Fetch
While teaching your puppy the basics of this classic game can be challenging, the endless hours of fun afterwards are worth it. Speed up the learning process by picking a specific toy—always the same—that your pet will associate with the game. Use treats to reward your dog not only when they successfully retrieve the toy but also when they drop it on your command. Once they’ve mastered the game, children can safely take over the throwing part.
2 - Soccer
Upon seeing a child kick around a soccer ball, your dog will likely feel compelled to help them corner such an elusive quarry. You can adapt the game for your feline friend using appropriately sized prey such as a ping-pong ball, a wad of crumpled tinfoil or even ice cubes.
3 - Hide and seek
Kids typically find it much more fun to hide than to seek—a task your pet may happily carry out! The first step is teaching your puppy “stay.” Once they learn to obey this basic command, have the children hide somewhere in the house and call out the family pet’s name, luring them toward their hiding spot. With patience, persistence, and plenty of treats to be handed out as rewards, many cats can also be trained to play this game.
4 - Blowing bubbles
Kids love blowing bubbles, and animals love chasing them; it’s a perfect match. Why do cats and dogs go crazy over bubbles? Maybe because quick, unpredictable movement appeals to their hunting instincts. Or perhaps it’s the perfect prey, one that vanishes whenever they paw or snap at it, only to reappear in a new wave.
5 - Tug of war
A dog. A child. Each struggling to claim ownership of a sturdy rope. Who will be crowned champion? In addition to allowing your pet to spend their extra energy, tug of war is an excellent game to teach them to let go of an object on command. Tug of war may cause some dogs to become overly excited. Make sure your dog responds to commands reliably before including children and ask your vet clinic for advice if you are unsure.
Cats may enjoy a similar game by pouncing on a feathered toy tied at the end of a rod which kids can wiggle around. This item has the added benefit of keeping some distance between sharp feline claws and tiny hands.
6 - Follow the snacks
Sometimes, the most uncomplicated games can end up being the most entertaining. Fill your child’s pockets with pieces of store-bought or homemade pet treats. Have them run away, call your pet’s name to get their attention, then drop a tasty reward to the ground before running somewhere else. Repeat until no snacks are left. This game helps your pet learn to recognize another family member’s voice while allowing your child to feed your pet as grown-ups do.