Playing with your dog enriches your relationship with her. It’s as simple and as beautiful as that.

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

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Learn how to get Fido to bring the ball back!


Well-written and funny, this delightful booklet is filled with easy to follow directions for engaging in a variety of games and activities with your best canine buddy.  They plunge right into activities such as “The Chase Game”, “The Crazy Owner Game”,  “Hide and Seek”, and “Play Ball!” They also provide a fine collection of tricks to teach your dog, and an overview of organized classes that promote owner and dog sports such as agility, tracking, herding or mushing. They cover toys (Toys: The Good, the Bad, and the Squeaky) that are interactive between owners and dogs, as well as puzzle toys for independent play. Plus, there is a chapter on incorporating obedience training into your play sessions. They are thorough enough to cover “How Not to Play with Your Dog”, and have a nice index of resources. All this in just 90 pages!

37_dog_dreamingofrunningOne of my favorite entries is the Chase Game. Dogs love to play chase, just watch two dogs tearing around a dog park, running, jumping, pausing, changing directions, changing leaders, pausing again and starting over. As Drs. London and McConnell put it, “it’s hard to find a happier expression than that of a dog engrossed in a chase game. But, why leave all the fun to the dogs?”

The instructions for The Chase game are easy and you do not have to be a runner to enjoy it!

All you need to do is clap or “smooch”to get your dog’s attention, then take off running away from him as soon as he looks at you. We like to clap as we run; giggles are optional, but they make it more fun. Of course, the best place to play chase with your dog is outside in an area where you know your dog is safe off-leash. That gives you room to run ten yards one way and then sprint off in another direction before your dog catches up.”

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Grace plays Zombie chase!

It is possible to have a modified game of chase in the house. Bingley and I do that on occasion, but be careful of rugs, furniture, stray shoes, or other dog toys that can literally trip you up! Also, no matter where you choose to play Chase, there are some rules that help to keep it safe, fun, and effective:

1) One way play. The most important aspect of Chase is that you always run away from the dog so that he is chasing you! This is important because if you start chasing him, he will learn to run away from you when you move toward him thinking you are going to play. This makes it very hard to get him to come to you later, especially if he perceives you are leaning, even slightly towards him.

2) Know when to stop. Balanced play in dogs includes a lull in the action. Build lulls into your Chase play so your dog does not get overly excited. Moreover, in the prey sequence, the chase is followed by a grab bite, which is not exactly what most owners are looking for in their family dog. So, “when he is four or five feet away, turn toward him and reinforce him with a treat, toy, or the beginning of another chase game,” or throw in a couple of obedience commands (Sit! Down! Spin! Target! etc.) to get him to re-focus, calm down a bit and learn not to bite at the end of a chase sequence.

3) Also, you don’t have to run far before changing directions. You can go 5 yards in one direction, then 8 in another, then 6 in yet another, followed by 10 yards back towards where you started. This will make the game more fun for non-runners and may help to keep him focused on following his crazy owner rather than going in for the take down.

Play Together, Stay Together: Happy and Healthy Play Between People and Dogs is available through ( or on Fun, easy and quick to read, Play Together offers all the incentives and instructions to do just that!


Tennis anyone?


General2 comments

  1. It’s the Crazy Owner Game I want to hear about!

    • Julie Smith says:

      The Crazy Owner Game is known by those who do Rally-O as doodling. Basically, the idea is that you vary the speed and direction that you walk (rewarding your dog with tasty treats when he stays with you) so that your dog has no idea where, how far, or for how long you will be going in any given direction. Therefore, Fido focuses closely on you because you have become so wonderfully unpredictable. You can do this on or off leash, but if you do it off leash, be sure to be in a fenced in area! I do a version of this in class when I have an owner simply walk around the facility letting their dog go wherever it wants, but rewarding it with food, praise, petting when the dog checks in with the owner. Very soon most owners find that the dog is sticking with them and walking quite nicely by their side.

      If you are unsure as to how to move unpredictably, I recommend that you take your dog and walk the labyrinth at Denison. By following the path, you twist and turn and walk varying distances before turning. All you need to think about is varying your pace. I have done this with Bingley and it was really fun. At first he just couldn’t figure out what I was doing and why I was turning around so randomly, but soon he settled in next to me and we had a fun turn about the labyrinth. One great thing about it is that it doesn’t take long, (10-15 minutes maybe?). Moreover, it can easily be incorporated into a walk around town. It is located on the north side of W. College street about halfway between Mulberry and Main St. Check it out!

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