Owning a Staffy has been one of the single greatest joys in my life. I have spent the last 10 years with my Staffy and playing with her each and every day is still my favorite thing. Even in Ruby’s senior years she still is full of energy and loves to play all sorts of games.
How do you play with a Staffy? As a general rule playing with a Staffy should be done in a safe and controlled manner. Staffies love to play games like fetch, tug of war, and hide & seek games. Make play time both an enjoyable activity and an opportunity to work on training skills.
For my Staffy and I, play time is always a chance to work on her obedience skills. That may sound like a buzz kill, but in reality it makes things that much more fun. Adding the extra layer of challenge and guidance to play activities provides amazing mental stimulation. Not to mention the interaction time Staffies crave.
In this post I will share with you some of my Staffy’s favorite games, activities, and ways to generally play and entertain your dog. The fun loving Staffy is always down to interact with their owner. Taking time each day to enjoy this side of the Staffy is great for the dog, but also incredibly enriching for your own life. Let’s dig in.
How Do You Entertain A Staffy?
There are dozens of ways to entertain a Staffy. Games that use their physical abilities such as fetch, tug of war, and agility games will keep your Staffy entertained for hours. Mental stimulation activities like hide & seek, rally, and trick training are also excellent entertainment for a Staffy.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is known to be a fun loving and highly energetic dog. Paired with their clever problem solving intelligence, the possibilities for keeping your Staffy entertained are endless. So long as your Staffy is interacting with you and being challenged mentally and/or physically, they will be having fun.
As much as I would love to play with my Staffy all day every day, it is unfortunately not a reality. There are times when a Staffy has to keep themselves entertained. My Staffy loves to chew and play with her toys. Providing her with a good variety of toys, chews, and food puzzles keeps her content and occupied.
I would highly recommend keeping at least a few Kongs ready in your freezer at all times. Kongs are a convenient and entertaining way for your Staffy to work on a food puzzle and be rewarded. Food puzzles are also amazing options. Outward Hound makes some of the best on the market.
What Games Do Staffies Like?
Finding purpose driven games that allows your Staffy to interact with you and stay active is where they thrive. As a whole Staffies enjoy games such as:
- Hide & Seek
- Spring Poles
- Flirt Poles
- Sniff & Search
- Play Wrestling
- Monster under the blanket
These are just a handful of the most common games that Staffies enjoy. You can get creative and make your own games of course. Staffies are not picky when it comes to play time. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier loves nothing more than spending time with you. Physical and mental stimulation that you provide them will only strengthen the bond you have with your dog.
As an example I included the game “Monster under the blanket”. I’m not sure what else to call it. Basically it is me moving my hands or feet under a blanket and letting my Staffy pounce and play trying to catch them. My Staffy LOVES this game. Trying to move my hands in a sneaky manner keeps her focused and fully engaged in the game. Give it a try.
Are Staffies Good At Fetch?
Staffies are on average very good at playing fetch. A Staffy can learn the game of fetch rather quickly. They will be fully engaged in the activity for hours. If you let them. Staffies can play fetch to the point of exhaustion, so it is important to know how to end the game, or at least take a break.
When my Staffy was younger she had no off switch when it came to games like fetch. Staffies are like that in general. They are highly energetic and will play to an unhealthy point. When playing fetch with my Staffy, periodic breaks were needed. Lots of water, rest, and avoiding hot weather were all important factors to keep her healthy.
How Do You Teach A Staffy To Fetch?
Every dog is different. One Staffy may take to the game of fetch naturally without much instruction, while another will take some time to teach. As a general rule teaching a Staffy to fetch requires practice, some time, and patience.
My Staffy didn’t quite understand the game of fetch initially, but once I was able to teach her it was game on. These are some of the steps you can take to teach a Staffy to fetch.
For these steps I will be referring to a ball for the game of fetch, but you can apply these same steps using a favorite toy or frisbee just as well.
Get Them Interested
Getting your Staffy interested in the ball is your first step. Move the ball around in your hand, have them follow you with it, and make it exciting. Let your Staffy interact with the ball, but keep it in your control. A simple game of tug with the release command is a perfect way to start the interaction.
This can take a little time to get the “Get it” and “release” command down. But be patient and keep things fun for your Staffy. These commands will come in handy once you begin throwing the ball.
Roll & Run
Now that you have your Staffy interested in the ball and you have the “get it” and “release” command down, it’s time to roll the ball. Start with a fairly short distance. A few feet to begin with using the “get it” command as you roll the ball away from your dog.
Once your Staffy goes to the ball and picks it up with their mouth, you turn and run away. This encourages your Staffy to chase after you and promotes a quicker return of the ball. Use the “come” or “bring it here” command as you run and encourage your dog to chase after you.
Don’t forget to reward them with praise once they have returned back to you with the ball. Again this might take some time and practice. The important element is to keep the ball interesting and exciting. We are looking to get your Staffy focused and tap into that energetic drive they have.
Increase The Toss
As your Staffy gets better and better at the roll & run alongside with the “get it” and “release” command, it’s time to step things up. Increase the distance you throw the ball and try to run less and use commands more.
Hopefully you have built up the positive association with “get it” for your dog to chase after the ball, and “bring it here” while they come to you with the ball. A simple release command once they have returned, lots of praise, and repeat.
Again this might come very naturally to your Staffy, or it may not. Practice makes progress with any training and learning. Enjoy yourself and be patient. So long as you are committed to teaching them your Staffy will learn.
Should I Play Tug Of War With My Staffy?
You should play Tug Of War with your Staffy if they want to play. As a whole Staffies enjoy playing Tug Of War because they get to engage with you, receive mental stimulation, as well as some physical exercise. Playing Tug Of War safely is important and you must control when the game starts and ends.
There are some old myths out there that playing Tug Of War with a dog can make them aggressive. This is mostly nonsense. Aggression will not be a result of the game of tug when played properly. Your dog must be aware of the rules.
So how do you play Tug Of War with a Staffy? First and foremost the game of tug needs to start and stop with you. As the owner you should always be the one initiating the game. During the game if your Staffy becomes too rough, obsessed, or overstimulated you must end the game. Always be in control.
Tug Of War is an excellent physical exercise for your Staffy but it also provides a great opportunity for obedience training. Learning the “Get it” and “Drop it” or “Release” command are vital when playing tug. Practice these commands during each game until your Staffy understands and obeys without hesitation.
Lastly, use a soft toy or rope when playing Tug Of War. Things like bones, sticks or other hard surface objects can damage your Staffy’s teeth and cause injury.
Are Staffies Good At Agility?
On average Staffies are very good at agility. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a highly energetic dog that can excel in sports such as agility. Paired with their high intelligence and eagerness to please, a Staffy can thoroughly enjoy both professional and backyard agility.
Agility sports are an excellent form of physical exercise for the Staffy. It also provides great mental stimulation and is a terrific way to strengthen your bond with your dog.
Are Staffies Rough? – Play Fighting And Games
When proper boundaries and rules are not established early on, Staffies can play rough . The Staffy is a rough and tumble little dog that can get overly excited easily. When a Staffy becomes obsessed or over excited they can play rough and you as the owner must be able to control this behavior.
They generally don’t mean any harm, but they are strong little dogs and can injure yourself and others by accident. Controlling your Staffy when they are in play mode is important. Staffies can learn to keep their high energy, and zest fully intact, while still playing gently.
I taught this to my Staffy at a very young age. Anytime I notice her getting too amped up, or beginning to get a little rough, a slow “ssssssshuuuush” will snap her out of it and calm her down enough.
She knows that play time isn’t over, just that she needs to take it down a notch. This is the level of control you must create with your Staffy.
How Do You Play With A Staffy Puppy?
Playing with a Staffy puppy is slightly different from an adult. As a general rule you should play with your Staffy puppy in a gentle and instructive manner. Fun, gentle, and controlled play is a great opportunity to train and bond with your Staffy puppy.
Games like fetch, tug of war, and hide & seek can all be played with a Staffy puppy. In fact I would encourage these games from an early age to begin learning some basic commands. With games like tug of war however you must be gentle.
Don’t tug on the toy or rope too hard. Keep it level to the floor and avoid raising it up so your puppy strains their neck. Your Staffy puppy is growing and doesn’t have the bone structure and flexibility to be able to play as hard as an adult. Be gentle when playing with your Staffy pup.
Other games such as chase are an excellent way to practice recall. Running from your Staffy puppy while giving the command “Come” will begin this recall training. Keep things fun and interesting for your puppy. Play time should be fun time, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be learning at the same time.
Playing with your Staffy is all about engaging with your dog and strengthening your bond. Staffies love to engage with their owners, be active, and be challenged mentally. These dogs thrive on any kind of activity that involves you and some stimulating fun.
Always be safe when playing with your Staffy. Remaining in control is crucial. Staffies have no off switch when it comes to fun and play, so you must be able to manage this at all times. As the owner you must both initiate the game, and end the game at your will.
Each Staffy will be different and more inclined to play certain games over others. One Staffy might love playing fetch, but is only interested in Tug Of War for short periods of time. Find what your Staffy enjoys and keep things fun. Mix things up. Get creative and invent new games of your own. Your Staffy will thank you for it.