Dog Doesn't Like Petting? 3 Games To Play Instead

fearful dogs May 15, 2023

For many of us with sensitive dogs, our desire to snuggle with them or pet them far surpasses their enjoyment of these activities. It can be tough to resist getting pushy with petting, when your dog is so darn cute! Luckily, there are lots of ways in which we can interact and bond with our dogs.  This week, I talk about 3 training games that many of our clients (and our own team) love to play with their less-cuddly dogs. 


Petting Alternative Game #1: Object Target (Boop The Thing)

Training your dog to touch an object with their nose is fun, and can be a helpful first step in lots of other types of training, including collar training and leash training.  I like playing object targeting games where the object is on the floor a little distance away from you, because it's usually a pretty low-pressure game for dogs who aren't completely comfortable being very close to people, being touched, or even with extended eye contact. 

I have a couple examples of object target games in the video below, and we have an older video on our Youtube Channel on how to teach object targeting


Petting Alternative Game #2: Target An Object In Your Hand 

This game is a step up in difficulty from the previous one. And like the "boop the thing" game, this one is fun, and useful.  I often ask my dog to target objects I'm holding when I have some new piece of equipment or a grooming tool I want to introduce. They'll need to be comfortable with me holding the item, and playing this game is a good way to work toward that goal. 

For some dogs, items in hands are scary. If your dog is one of these, you can skip this game for now. Or, check out this blog on training games for dogs afraid of objects held in hands


Petting Alternative Game #3: Hand Touch

Hand touch is a favorite game of many of our clients. It can help dogs who are a little worried about hands, start to feel more comfortable with them. Hand touch can also be used to call your dog to you, or to get them to move to a specific location, like the scale at the vet's office

If you dog is comfortable taking treats from your hand, you can probably train hand touch. I show two beginning steps of this training in the video below. 


If you enjoyed these training games, or if you have other favorites, we'd like to hear from you! You can comment below this blog, shoot us an email ([email protected]), or message us on Facebook or Instagram.