Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Games We Play

I LOVE games!  Active games, group games, puzzle games, all kinds of games.  And when teaching dog training, especially to young people,  I like to incorporate games.  (It can be frustratingly hard to try and get ADULTS to have fun and play a game!)  Some are individual games to play on your own because it gives the student something fun to do at home and that motivates them to practice more.  Some are team games that are competitive because competition motivates some (not all) people to put extra effort into an activity.  Some of my games have winners and there are prizes, sometimes it is just for the sake of having fun and there is no clear winner.

Some games are winners, and we play them over and over or at least every year.  Some games are losers, they get tried out, fail and we never play them again.  Here are some of the games we play!


Giant Tic Tac Toe- This one has been a favorite.  Draw a really big tic tac toe grid with chalk.  There are many variations but we play an easy version in teams of 3 or 4.  Teams take turns sending out one dog and handler to the game board.  If the player gets their dog to perform the correct position (sit, down or stand) inside a square on ONE COMMAND, they get to put a marker for their team in the square.  We use big fun foam shapes for markers.  Because only one dog is out on the board at one time it is also a good version for any dogs with dog issues.

A harder version is to use dogs as the Xs (downs) and Os (sits), leaving them there in a stay.  If a dog moves, it is removed from the board. This version only works if you have enough dogs to fill the board, of course!  Otherwise, the marker version works well if your class is small.

52 Card Pickup-  Spread an entire deck of cards out on the floor.  Then the group heels around, halting on each card they come to.  If at least one hair of their dog is touching the card, they get to pick it up.  You can call out stand or down and the next halt they do must be in that position.  Once all the cards are picked up, each handler counts their cards and the most cards wins. 

Dog on a String- This is basically a precision heeling game.  Tie a piece of thread to each dog's collar, this will function as the leash.  Call out increasingly difficult commands (as in Command, Break and Out if you've ever done this class as a horse show) and any dog not performing the commands correctly or anyone with a broken thread is out and comes to the middle of the ring to keep an eye on those who are still in the game.  Last one left with a thread and able to complete the last command wins.

Mind Your Ps and Cues (from this website)- This game was FUN.  The students had a blast rearranging their cards into a mini-performance for the rest of the class.  Those that got the "your choice" cards had fun thinking up something creative to put in that spot.  And we all had fun watching and clapping for each one.  This is a great game to break the class out of their routine and get them interacting with (and rooting for) each other.  That said, it can take up a LOT of class time so don't schedule it for when you need to get to an important lesson.  And picking a winner is pretty much impossible to have a LOT of small prizes so you can give everyone something!

Losers (for us, at least)

Add-A-Cue (from this website)- I don't know if our club is just way too smart or has elephant memory but this game went on WAY too long because they were way too good at it!  They thought up some really fun and creative things to do besides the usual sit-down-stand and everyone had fun trying each new variation and trying to remember the whole sequence.  But the trouble was, they DID remember!

Simon Says/Red Light Green Light- These are two standards to I tried to play several times but they are just way too easy.  You can try and make them harder with increasing difficulty of commands but Simon Says is only fun if people mess up and do it when they aren't supposed to and our group has been WELL TRAINED to listen to the judge's orders and they almost never mess up in that way.  Red Light Green Light has the same problem along with it being about getting to the other side quickly which I don't find terribly compatible with dog training goals so we stopped playing it.

It's the Pits- I can't find the website I got this game from but it basically consists of each dog and handler doing a recall individually.  The trick is that the handler has a penny under each arm and they must recall their dog without moving their arms and letting the pennies drop.  This was way too easy for our advanced group and our beginner group (sadly) hardly has time for games during their class as they have a LOT of get through.  I keep this in my back pocket for when I have someone who can't seem to keep their hands at their sides but as a group game it was a huge fail, not fun.

Links for game ideas:

1 comment:

  1. Wow that sounds like a lot of fun! It must be great to have so many well trained dogs in a group.