Sometimes there are moments when Sophia will sit there snuggled up to Frank on the sofa or Sophia will fall and cry and Frank will run over to see if she is ok… there are other times when Sophia gets so excited with Frank she grits her teeth, grabs him and pinches his ears or tries to climb on top of him like a tiny little horse. Or there are times when Frank is having a ‘mad half hour’ and is running round the house so fast that he knocks Sophia over (not that she actually cares as she is giggling so much).
The point is sometimes both a toddler and a dog can get a little overly excited and it’s not always a calm and perfectly in sync relationship. It’s in these cases that I find playing a game with them both can restore order and bring them back together whilst offering stimulation and entertainment.
Here are some of our favs.
Where is it?
These games are obviously dependent on the dogs personality and engagement at the time but this one seems to always be a winner with Sophia and Frank and they both love it.
- What you need: A blanket or sheet, a ball (durable if needed)
- How to play: Lay the blanket or sheet out and show the ball to your dog and child, ask them what it is and what colour? Then place the ball under the blanket near the edge and say “Where is it?” let them both find it. Tell them to wait while you put it under again.
- Why it’s good: This game teaches patience, and playing a game together which leads to learning to share.
A treasure hunt it a great one for stimulation – with easter fast approaching this could be a great one to play, it doesn’t have to all be about eating chocolate!
- What you need: These bunnies (click here to purchase) are great as they are bright colours and are ball like for dogs to play with (try and grab them if your dog destroys toys like my one does!) but such good fun to hide around a confined space, in a park and get them to go looking for them together.
- How to play: If you can find an area such a tennis courts then this works great for a hunting space. Simply place the bunnies around the area in not too difficult places but still challenging enough and let them hunt together.
- Why it’s good: It gets them outdoors, which increases vitamin D (the happy hormone) helps build their immune system. Getting outdoors has actually shown to reduce irritability which can lead to less tantrums! (supposedly!) It challenges them to look for something, helps with colour development and focuses them! It also burns off lots of energy with all the running around.
Hide the toy
This was inspired by Five Minute Mum and her blog post for ‘Things to do with 1-2 year olds’ this was no.7 on her list, read about it here. If you haven’t heard of Five Minute Mum then make sure you check her out as she is great for inspiration when you can’t think what to do with the little one or feeling lazy, these are quick games that you will more than likely have everything you need in the house.
This is quite similar to the Where is it game but it changes things up for them and introduces different colours/equipment.
- What you need: Plastic cups, different colours are always good because you can teach colours while playing I.E – “is it under the purple cup” “what colour cup was it under?”
- How to play: You put a toy under a cup and ask your child to choose which one it’s under and then do the same to the dog. Some dogs may not get involved with a toy and need a treat but I think using the same toy helps them play together. Sophia loves it when Franks plays and she giggles away and wants to beat him, I am pretty sure Frank purposely chooses the wrong cup to let her win.
- Why it’s good: It helps with colours and memory and is easily adaptable with household objects you already have, ie any cups or any toys.
Another one inspired by the five minute mum (we love her can you tell?!)
- What you need: Some plastic cups and a ball out of foil and thats it! You can use the dogs tennis ball for their turn.
- How to play: Throw the ball into the cup and each time they get it in you take the cup away until you are left with none. For the doggies, throw the ball towards to cup and get them to go fetch and bring it back to you.
- Why it’s good: Great for coordination for the little ones and great recall training for the dog when you get them to keep bringing it back to you.
Agility course for dogs and toddlers!
Ok so this one takes some planning and there might be things your toddler can do and dog can’t and vice versa. You can freestyle with what you have in the house / garden so there are no ‘rules’ for this one! Here’s what I do, for inspiration;
I lay down pillows as stepping stones and holding Sophia’s hand she jumps onto the next one. With Frank (as his hips are not good) I then get him to stand and do a few steps for a reward, but you could create a hurdle for your dog to jump over using poles or umbrellas. Then to end I always get the tunnel out, which both of them love to run through!