Gotcha Game

Objective:  Is to introduce your puppy to physical play, to learn how to engage with your puppy without using food or toys, and to raise and lower your puppy’s arousal levels during interaction with you.


Additional Reading:

Teaching your puppy to settle after getting excited

Step by Step Instructions Comments
For this game you will use your hands and voice to interact with your puppy.
Use light tapping or pushing on your dog’s shoulders and hips, with a slight movement away from you to initiate the game. If your dog understands and enjoys this type of interaction she will come back at you in a playful and excited manner.

  • If your puppy is very shy or inhibited, you may need you to be extremely careful, gentle and low-key with this type of activity until they gain some confidence.
  • If your dog has any physical issues or injuries then this is not the game for the two of you to play at this time.  Games should never hurt.
  • Many high drive highly excitable dogs will get overly aroused with this game and may even start using teeth.  You can allow your dogs to play with you with an open mouth which means you may get an occasional tooth bump.  If your dog starts to become too “bitey” then bring the game down in intensity.
Play this game in different rooms in the house and when there is something distracting going on (i.e. someone is cooking in the kitchen, a friend has come over, the television is on, and so on)
Benefits of playing this game:
  • Builds a good relationship with your dog
  • You learn how to play with your dog in a way that doesn’t require food or toys
  • Mix this game up with ‘Relax on a Mat’ to teach your puppy to self calm after getting excited
 *adapted from ‘Focus Games’ taught on-line at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy by Deborah Jones and Judy Keller
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