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We have a new 13 week old Lab mix puppy, Hurley. I have 2 boys, 9 & 12, that love playing with Hurley, but I want to make sure they're playing the right games with him.

I used to think that tug-of-war was off limits, but I just learned that it's ok and I'm now instilling that game into our repertoire. What other active games can they play with Hurley?

Chase? Can they let Hurley chase them or can they chase Hurley?
Wrestling? Does this just invite nipping?

Thanks for your help.
 

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Chase is a good game IMO, it teaches the dog that coming to you and following you is rewarding and fun. You can start teaching him recall with this game as well.
Fetch is fun and I bet a lab puppy will love it (he might not understand the rules at first but he'll pick it up with lots of praise). Get multiple balls incase he doesn't always bring it back.
You can make a flirt pole which is basically a long stick with a string attached to a plushy or a rag. You swing the pole around so the dog can chase the plush.

I wouldn't wrestle with the pup personally, at least till he has 100% good bite inhibition. Better to stick with games that aren't inviting mouth on skin/clothes contact.
Any game should end if teeth touch skin/clothes. He will learn fast that nipping/biting = game over.
 

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Chase or be chased.... well, if you want him to chase and bite ALL kids, then sure. Be chased.... nothing more annoying than a dog who likes to play keepaway when he's slipped off the leash. Wrestling.... same thing, if you want him being rowdy and doing that to a 4 year old kid or grandma when she visits.....

Tug is a great game, so do that.

Another one is 'search and rescue'. Start with you holding him while one of the kids shows him a treat, then goes across the room and sits down quietly. Tell him 'go find xxxx(kid's name)' and let him go, have your son give him the treat and praise. Once he gets the idea, start having your son go around the corner, to another room, and very shortly he won't be able to find a hiding spot away from that smart puppy! You can then play the game outside too, just be sure he's on leash so he doesn't wander off when searching.

They can teach him things and usually participate in classes, check around and see if you can find a class that will let them also train. After the basics they can continue on into rally, agility, flyball, you name it.

For recalls, same idea, have one hold, the other have the tug item and tease him a bit, then get a head start and call him (the holder releases) and then run till he catches up for a game of tug, then reverse.
 

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Good suggestion Dusty. Our dog loves hide and seek. Kids can go hide, holding treat bags. Release the dog after the kids are hiding and the kids can take turns calling the dog. Reward when he find them. Then they can find a new hiding spot while other kid calls the dog.

Edit: Didn't see Bordermom's post before I posted. We play chase (he chases us) with Galahad but we initiate the game and call him to us. We don't have kids so I don't know if he would try to chase all kids if they played this game with him. He doesn't chase us when we're not playing and doesn't chase other people so not sure about that one. I'd hate for your kids to get hurt though so maybe not a great idea.
 

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How about searching for food? I put food in easter eggs and then hide them all over the house. The dog loves running from room to room and using her nose to ferret them out.
 

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As Gally said, It is important to teach Bite Inhibition to a Lab - see the sticky The Bite Stops Here. Labs bite to play, but once you teach Bite INhibition, you can play tug and chase and wrestle, and you can use the method used for Bite Inhibition to communicate not to run away with the toy...
 

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Some really great suggestions! I'll try some of these tonight.

DustyCrockett / Bordermom, I like the idea of hide & seek (or search & rescue). I'll take the opportunity to have my boys slowly feed him his meal this way.

GottaLuvMutts, searching for food would be a great game, except that I feed Hurley a raw diet. I don't like the idea of having him eat raw meat all through the house.

Gally, the "flirt pole" sounds like fun for the dog. Sort of like fly-fishing. I'll have to make myself one of those soon.

I've gotten mixed signals on playing Chase... is it ok or not? My boys tried it a couple of weeks ago, but Hurley immediately got too excited and started nipping at their shoes and ankles. But, just 2 days ago, I had Hurley off-leash running right next to me with no problems. I wasn't trying to get him to chase me, just heel next to me.

I'm continuing his bite inhibition training. I played tug, along with the "give" command, with him alot last night and he never nipped me. I'll see how he does playing tug with the boys.
 

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The most favored game that our BC mix puppy and my 9 year old play together is "Mousy Under the Covers". He puts his hands, or various body parts, or sometimes his whole body, underneath the heavy covers on my big king bed and moves and wiggles it around. She takes great pleasure in pouncing on that mousy, including running around the room and jumping back up to get it. Use an old comforter or bedspread on top, though, because it's getting trashed ;).
 

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Gally, the "flirt pole" sounds like fun for the dog. Sort of like fly-fishing. I'll have to make myself one of those soon.

I've gotten mixed signals on playing Chase... is it ok or not? My boys tried it a couple of weeks ago, but Hurley immediately got too excited and started nipping at their shoes and ankles. But, just 2 days ago, I had Hurley off-leash running right next to me with no problems. I wasn't trying to get him to chase me, just heel next to me.

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yeah the flirt pole is great fun, I call it "fishing for dogs"

Regarding mixed signals...dogs and owners are all unique, what works for some doesn't for others. Most dogs love to chase and be chased. Just like with tug, he'll have to learn when you're playing and when you're serious. At 13 weeks, his senses are still developing. He has a "flight" stage coming up; the outside world is going to start getting way more interesting, if he gets loose he'll want to run. I doubt playing chase in the house now will have any effect on it later, but that's just sheer speculation on my part.
 

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I just find with dogs and kids, if the dog thinks it's a fun game to chase, they can get carried away and knock the kid over, or get too rough if the kid falls down, so I don't encourage that as a specific game. Plus if a kid falls on the dog they're likely to get bitten in the wrong situation - not all dogs are going to be as good as one raised with kids, and kids don't always think that way. So I do teach them to do a recall but they have a toy and that's what the dog is after, to play tug, and it's a bit more controlled then 'hey, let's run down the children because they're moving and close enough to sheep/livestock'....

With being chased, I've had to deal with more than one dog who thought it was quite delightful at 3 am in a blizzard to do the 'ha, you can't catch me' routine instead of coming when called. Boarding dogs where they're in large yards and not being able to get within 3 feet because they've either been taught to bolt at the last second, or have had recall issues (dog gets loose, owner does the whole grab and snag routine too many times, dog isn't going to let himself get caught and yelled at again...).

He might be fine running around with you but like you've said, with the kids he gets carried away....
 

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I agree with Bordermom that chasing the dog could easily lead to the dog thinking "you can't catch me" is one of the greatest games in the world. My guy has a bit of that sometimes. In certain 'safe' areas I'll drop his leash and let him run around with some other dogs we know and he'll do fine and 95% of the time come when called. But the few times he's 'escaped' (both gates at dog park opened and slips out, gate to backyard open slips out of back door) it's a big game of "you can't catch me" to him. Those few occasions he was good enough to not actually leave our neighborhood and I've never ran after him just followed at a walk waiting for a chance to get close enough to grab him.

I much prefer the idea of him chasing me than me chasing him just in case they do get loose at some point unintentionally (odds are it'll happen sometime). I also like what Bordermom said about having a toy so it's more of them chasing they toy than you for a puppy at least still learning manners and bite inhibition.
 

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We have a new 13 week old Lab mix puppy, Hurley. I have 2 boys, 9 & 12, that love playing with Hurley, but I want to make sure they're playing the right games with him.

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It depends on what the Lab is Mixed with.
Labs love to retrieve...I have a purebred Lab and retrieving is what she loves to do!
I also have a Lab/Chow mix.....and Chows Do Not Retrieve..and neither does my Lab/Chow mix.
 

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The "problem" with Chase is that it should not be the pup's rules, but yours. Like other folks implied, dogs love to be chased... and you may want to make him chase you first, until you understand how to train him or "yelp" so that he won't run away when ever he wants.

Nearly any game or behavior is OK, as long as you apply and teach some rules & boundaries (sounds like kids :) ) so that it is fun for you.
 
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