9 Games To Play While Walking The Dog

tennis balls

As dog owners, we all know that our dogs love nothing more than going for a walk. It seems like just the mention of the word walk sends them into an excited frenzy. Do you ever think your dog gets bored of the same walk over and over, or even your starting to feel the repetition of walking the same route daily? Why not try livening your daily walk-up with some fun games. In this article, we give you some great activities to stimulate your dog physically and mentally whilst carefully keeping you entertained. Below is an easy to read list of games to play while walking your dog. Read on further to discover the details of each game.

  1. Hide and Seek
  2. Scent Walking
  3. Treat Hunts 
  4. Fetch (Classic) 
  5. Fetch (Multiball)
  6. Race and Chase 
  7. Hot Pursuit 
  8. Bring a Friend
  9. Water Games

You can adapt these games to the age or ability of your dog, remember that some dogs aren’t as athletic as others and may become tired quickly. Just go out with your pooch and find some nice open spaces to play or areas like woodland can be great for playing games along trails.


Doggy Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is a classic game that we are most likely aware of. played often as a child in big groups you would count to 100 and then begin finding your fellow contestants. As an interesting twist, this can be adapted for you and your pooch, although its easier and more fun to have another human there to help.

To play this with two people and your dog you must get one of you to distract your dog whilst you slip away and hide. Be careful at this point as your furry friend has great hearing, although with an appropriate distraction he shouldn’t notice. After you have found a great hiding place get the other person to use the command “where is (your name)”, your pooch should at least notice you have gone even if they don’t fully understand what you are asking.

You may feel like your dog has an unfair advantage, considering they have an amazing sense of smell and hearing, so you better make that hiding place really good. If your pooch is having a hard time finding you, give yourself a pat on the back and start giving them clues. The other person could help them look in close vicinity to your hiding place or you could throw some stones from where your hiding onto a nearby area, alerting your dog to that location. However, you play it just remember to have fun and when your dog finds you give them lots of praise and reward, as in some scenarios this is not just a game, its a great ability for a dog to track down a human.

Scent Walking

This is a common activity given to dogs to increase their mental stimulation when out on walks. Dogs love to smell and it’s not only because they enjoy it, its how they make sense of the world. Dogs essentially see with their nose, it allows them to understand anything from emotions to past activities. To read more about your dogs smell check out our articles on “Why Does My Dog Smell Everything On a Walk” and “How Long Can a Dog Follow a Scent: Understanding Your Dogs Nose” these articles give you all the reasons why dogs love to smell and an insight into how your dog’s nose works.

Scent walking in its common form is a walk where you allow your dog to have a good sniff whenever they want, you let your dog lead the way and be patient when they want to smell something, this gives them great mental stimulation. To bring this type of walking up to the next level and increase the amount of mental stimulation they get, think about what your dog is doing when they smell something. Your dog is painting a picture of what was there and sometimes deciding whether they need to take action. Before you go for your routine walk with your pooch, walk the route by yourself and take with you some of your dogs favorite toys treats and even items from around the house like clothing from another resident of your household. Rub these items on areas throughout your walk and leave treats on the floor, without looking like your insane, subtlety is key here.

After you have prepared the route, go out with your dog and watch as they sniff all the areas in which you have set smells for them. Dogs have an incredible ability to memorize smells far greater than ours. Obviously we can recognize freshly baked bread but dogs are able to remember everything they smell, including the smell of emotion or other dogs and people they have met. Just remember your dog is probably going to work out that their owner has been rubbing a sock against a wall or bush for no reason whatsoever.

Dogs smelling during a walk

Treat Hunts

We all know that dogs love treats and certain treats get our dog’s attention more than others. treats are a great way too train our dog and to also give them something to find. Dogs love to scavenge and this is commonly shown by the kitchen hoover action. carefully dragging their nose along the kitchen floor looking for any unassuming crumbs that have fallen on the floor. Sometimes I think that my dog would prefer me to chuck his kibble all over the floor than into his bowl, either way, dogs love to scavenge.

Treats hunts allow your dog to find treats whilst walking along their normal route giving them a little surprise each time they find one. You can perform this game in two ways. Just like scent walking you could place the treats in hidden locations along the walk beforehand. By doing this all the treats are set up and ready, although it does require you to walk the route twice and if you’re limited on time then this is not ideal. The more common way of playing this game is to take a bag of treats with you or even some of their kibble if you want a slightly healthier and cheaper way of playing. As you walk along to watch for your dog to get distracted by a nearby smell, once they turn away throw a treat just ahead of them and then carry on walking. Your dog should detect the treat fairly quickly, depending on where you throw it. Obviously you can upgrade the difficulty level by throwing the treat into a bush or long grass.

Dog Sniffing

Fetch (Classic)

This game is a classic for a reason, standing the test of time fetch gives dogs the opportunity to chase something down and bring it back, well that’s the idea. Working dogs are usually the ones that enjoy playing fetch the most, playing on their internal need to bring back a kill for hunters. You would think that a golden retriever like mine would be great at “fetch”. He is soft-mouthed and loves bringing me things, sometimes panicking if he cannot find something to bring me when I get home from work. When it comes to fetching my golden retriever is more interested in what smells are around or just getting on with the walk. he loves to chase the ball but retrieving it is another matter altogether. My advice to owners looking to play fetch with dogs that don’t live up to their name should bring extra toys to throw.

If you haven’t heard of the game fetch (where have you been) here is how to play. Firstly you need something to throw, commonly this is a ball or frisbee. However, you can use anything you want your dog to catch, let’s stick with soft and light items like dog toys. You throw the item over your dog and let them chase or catch it, the idea of fetch is that your dog can bring the item back to you when they have caught or retrieved it. Sometimes dogs don’t get this concept and so you can train them to do so. Here is a great resource from WebMD on how to teach your dog to fetch and return “How To Teach a Dog, Fetch”. 

Fetch (Multiball)

Fetch is a great game but sometimes it can get a little boring, especially for owners who just stand there throwing the ball. Its time to upgrade this game by including more balls and more items.

To play fetch multiball you need….well multiple balls or extra items to throw. When your dog thinks you are going to throw the normal ball let them chase after it as soon as they gather the ball up and look back at you throw another ball near to them. Here’s the tricky part, at this moment your dog should drop the ball they have and run after the other on (standard dog living in the moment behavior). To get yourself involved run after the ball they have just dropped as its most likely they will see you do this and try to get it before you, they may even collect the other ball and then pursue the one your chasing.

This game can be a little exhausting but great exercise for you and your dog. Just keep throwing the balls around and chasing after them its looks a bit crazy but your dog will absolutely love you joining in.

tennis balls

Race and Chase

Off lead, walking is the best form of exercise for your dog and something that I widely encourage across our website. the freedom it gives not only your dog but yourself is priceless. This game is done to give your dog some surprise changes to a normal walk and involves you getting your running shoes on again.

It’s a simple game that can be done as little or as much as you like, you may even find that you have done it before. Dogs love nothing better than a race and so why not give them one, you may need a head start though. Firstly you need to let your dog get distracted by something like a good smell, walking slightly ahead to get a good head start on your race. As soon as you are far enough ahead, RUN! Your dog should see you doing this and pursue you if they are anything like mine they will soon get to you and sprint straight past you declaring themselves the winner of the race.

This game can be a great exercise for both you and your dog and give your dog that extra physical stimulation they need. Try not to be too hard on yourself as most dogs are faster than people…did you know that?

Hot Pursuit

This is a game for both the RC enthusiast and the dog that loves to chase. Dogs natural instinct is to chase, they love it, its something they would do in the wild and for most predatory animals, chasing gives that a sense of competition.

As an upgrade to games like fetch or race and chase try attaching a ball, treat or favourite toy to a remote control car and challenging your dog to retrieve to the ball. The best way to perform this is by using a tennis ball and attaching a small patch or velcro to the back of the vehicle. by doing this the ball will be held on securely enough but if your dog manages to grab it with his mouth, the ball will easily rip off and there will be no crashes.

The location in which you play this game can often be a tricky one as the rougher the terrain the more thought is needed for the type of RC vehicle you use. My recommendation is to use an RC vehicle with offroad wheels this way they can perform on many surfaces including grass. Test it out in your garden or backyard area, this way you will know how your dog is going to react, it’s probably best not to go too crazy on price unless your already an RC enthusiast. Even a small treat on a small car will sometimes be enough for your dog to chase.

As a standard disclaimer, please be careful when using RC vehicles as they can on some occasions cause harm to others. Common sense is all that is required to understand that using them in a crowded place could cause you to crash into someone else, and your dog might follow.

Bring a Friend

Dogs are natural pack animals and love nothing more than playing with other dogs. If you’re not up for entertaining your dog on a walk, bringing along another dog can be a great way to entertain them. Most of us know someone else with dogs and often the opportunity is missed that we don’t go walking with them.

Dogs love companionship and its not always practical for our lives to have more than one dog, so including other dogs in our walks can be great. If you don’t know anyone that has a dog you could always join a local dog-walking club or a meet up for a particular breed. Places like Facebook can be a good place to start looking, joining a group based around your breed of dog may lead to new connections near you and possibly group walks.

Walking with a pack of dogs can often be easiest when they are off lead as you will sometimes get tangled up walking on lead, this is made easier if there are two of you. We have an article on walking multiple dogs, you can check it out by clicking the link “How To Walk Multiple Dogs”.

train your dog not to pull

Water Games

When it comes to dogs water is something that is common amongst them. Although certain dogs are not adapted for swimming, there is nothing like a splash in even the shallowest of water. Changing your dog walking route can be one thing to increase the physical and mental stimulation of your pooch, but adding a section where they can splash around as much as possible is priceless.

To add to the fun you can take along some toys to throw into the water for them to retrieve. Floating toys are the best for obvious reasons, just be aware that you may lose them if your dog chooses not to chase after them. More placid waters can be better for this sort of thing and places such as lakes are ideal as there is usually no current to take the toys away. Although just adding a section of your walk where your dog can play in the water will be something that love, toys are a great way to upgrade to fun to the next level. For more dog water toys check out our article “The Best Water Toys For Dogs”.

dog swimming


So there you have it 9 of the best games to play with your dog while on a walk. Remember many of these games you can adapt and I find just being a bit silly with your pooch can offer the most amounts of fun, hiding, running and chucking multiple balls into the air. The most important thing for you as an owner is to have fun and when your pooch is having fun its a great feeling too. If you liked this article check out some of our other articles on our homepage, we write all about enjoying walking and outdoors with your dog.






Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

Recent Posts