Ask the Trainer: Breed-specific games to play

By Nadine Steele

This week, I have been asked to suggest breed-specific games to play with our dogs.

I believe that being able to incorporate our dogs' breed-specific genetic instinct into play brings the bond between owner and dog to a whole new level of trust and respect.

Owning Border Terriers has certainly proven to me personally that behaviour is also very different between a bored and stimulated terrier and giving them an opportunity to fulfil instinct makes the difference between the lawn being intact, or not.

The seven recognised groups of dogs are: working, gundogs, terriers, toys, Hounds, non-sporting and utility.

Working dogs were designed to assist with stock herding and other pastoral duties. This group of dogs get satisfaction from agility games and trick training, which stimulates their busy minds. Next time you are out, throw in an "urban agility challenge", asking your dog to go over and under fence railings and other obstacles you come across.

Soccer is a great game to play with this group. They love to "herd" the large ball in the backyard.

Gundogs are all about the nose, so hiding treats and laying scent trails for them to follow will ensure a happy gundog. The gundog group is also home to retriever breeds, so don't forget to engage your dog in a game of fetch.

Terriers were bred to go to ground after quarry to either flush or exterminate rodents and other furry pests. Build an above ground tunnel out of your furniture cushions, old boxes, tyres or correct sized pipes and lure your dog through the obstacle course with the promise of a tasty treat at the end.

A good game of dig in a dog-friendly sandpit or the beach is rarely turned down.

Hounds are all about the hunt. Whether you own a sight hound or a scent hound, the natural instinct is still very much on the surface with this group. Games of "find it" are a hit, using fluffy toys and tasty treats. Lunge lines with a toy attached are a great tool for lure games and a safe "chase" option.

Toy dogs are all about companionship and will thrive on the extra attention from you when teaching them tricks.

Non-sporting and utility breeds are those that have been designed for a range of activities, with many of them being dual purpose, such as the drovers dog, the rottweiler (which was also used as a guard dog) and the poodles who flushed and retrieved water fowl. Sledding breeds such as malamutes and huskies and other strong breeds such as newfoundlands and bernese mountain dogs thrive on games involving weight pulling and harness work.

Lure games, scent work and tricks also keep this group occupied.

Paw point of the week

Whether your dog comes from a purebred or mixed breed lines, be sure to include instinctual play in your day.

Contact me for the chance to have your question selected for publication at for further information on Dog Guru visit


- Rotorua Daily Post

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 08 Dec 2016 18:08:28 Processing Time: 511ms