5 Running Games To Play With Your Dog

Just as the iconic image of the Great Dad shows him playing catch with his kids, the iconic image of the Great Dog Guardian would show a person running around with a dog. A few minutes- or even a few steps- are all you need, so don’t resist these easy ways to add joy to your dog’s day.

1. Chase. This game is simple: You run and your dog chases you. Clap or make a “smooch” sound to get your dog’s attention, and then run away from him. When he’s within a few feet of you, turn and reinforce him with a treat, a toy or the start of another chase. Stopping before he reaches you prevents the chase game from turning into the “nip the human on the back of the leg” game. (Don’t play the “chase the dog” game- it will teach him to run away when you approach and ruin his recall.)

2. On Your Mark, Get Set, Go. Combine a little trick work and self-control practice with running. Teach your dog to lie down when you say “On your mark,” do a play bow to the cue “Get set” and start running when you say “Go.” Tres cute.

3. Fartlek. Runners worldwide use fartlek training to increase their speed. The word, which means “speed play” in Swedish, refers to the practice of interspersing short bursts of speed within a training run. To play with your dog fartlek style, surge ahead and run few paces, past several houses or even down the block. Chances are your dog will happily follow your lead. (And yes, even serious runners think it’s a funny word.)

4. Hard to Get. This short keep-away game can jump-start a play session. Squeak, bounce or wave a toy around to get your dog’s attention as you run away from him. Just make sure you don’t tease him by playing keep-away too long. The excitement created by a moment of playing hard to get can start another game, but going on too long without giving your dog access to the toy can result in frustration or anger rather than playfulness.

5. Crazy Owner. People who are unpredictable in their movements are fascinating to dogs. With that in mind, use the “crazy owner” game to get and keep your dog’s attention. Hold a bunch of yummy treats to lure your dog to your side and then start moving away from him. Change speed and direction often so he never knows what you are going to do next. For example, run five steps, turn and jog slowly for 10, then execute a quick reverse and sprint in the opposite direction. Offer him praise and treats every time he’s right by your side, and keep moving like a crazy person to maintain his interest.

Many people love to play with their dogs. Still more want to play with their dogs but think their dogs aren’t playful, or that they only like to play with other dogs. Certainly, some dogs are more naturally playful or more toy-motivated than others. Yet, I’ve found that time and again, the majority of dogs who are described as “not playful” by the people who know them best actually do love to play, as long as the games are based on running and chasing. Give them a try!

By Karen B. London, PhD, The Bark


William C
William C1 years ago


W. C
W. C1 years ago

Thank you for the article.

Regina M.
Regina M6 years ago

Debbie C. So sorry for your loss. I will pray that the pain subsides and you will be able to have another companion as soon as the time is right. You will know.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe6 years ago

Sadly, our dog passed away! But, my sister has 2 puppies and I will forward this to her and some others who have dogs so they can play with their babies!!

Hannah L.
Hannah L.7 years ago


Alicia N.
Alicia N8 years ago

noted with thanks.

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M8 years ago

Our dog loves his medium bright yellow and black soccer ball. He loves us to throw it and will run back, but not quite all the way, stop, keep his mouth on it, and suddenly take off, eventually he brings it back to throw again. He just doesn't care for fetch?!! Pets are such a delight!

K s Goh
KS Goh8 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Mari Basque
Mari 's8 years ago

I don't own a dog but I will send this on to those who do:-)

Kelley D.
Kelley Denz9 years ago

My dogs also love to run after things. I throw a toy and they think life is great. You can read myRumble Ring Review for an idea of a good toy to throw. It's soft so you can throw it in the house safely.