Video Game Fun: Virtual Adventures For Dogs

Video games for dogs have become increasingly popular in recent years as more pet owners recognize their benefits for providing mental enrichment. According to Axios, startups like Joipaw are developing specialized video games just for dogs, ranging from whack-a-mole style games to more cognitively challenging tasks. While video games have traditionally been designed for human players, dogs can also enjoy many advantages of game play.

There are now a wide variety of video game options available for dogs that provide stimulating mental activities. From apps and touchscreen games to console controlers modified for canine paws, the video game industry has expanded to accomodate our furry friends. These games give dogs an opportunity to use their brains, improve cognitive functioning, and have fun through virtual adventures and challenges.

Regular mental stimulation is very beneficial for a dog’s health and happiness. Video games offer an enriching way to engage a dog’s natural intelligence and abilities. They can help alleviate boredom, improve problem-solving skills, and may even slow age-related cognitive decline. As more pet owners recognize the value of providing interactive games for dogs, the market for canine video game products will likely continue growing.

Types of Dog Video Games

There are a variety of types of video games made specifically for dogs to play. Some of the most popular formats include:

Touchscreen/app games: These are games designed for mobile devices and tablets that dogs can interact with directly using their nose or paw on the touchscreen. Examples include games by companies like Joipaw that offer a range of touchscreen games to stimulate a dog’s mind.

Console games (PS4/Xbox): Special dog-friendly controllers allow dogs to play modified video games on gaming consoles. The controller replaces standard buttons with large pet-safe buttons that dogs can hit with their paw or nose to interact with the game.

PC games: Some companies offer dog video games that can be downloaded on a computer for dogs to play. The games use the computer’s webcam to detect the dog’s movements and allow them to interact with objects on screen.

Augmented reality games: These use AR technology to create interactive games in the real world for dogs. Apps detect when a dog interacts with virtual objects that appear on a smartphone or tablet screen overlaying the real environment.

Benefits of Video Games for Dogs

Video games designed specifically for dogs can provide important mental stimulation and enrichment. According to the Heart of Dixie Veterinary Specialists, dogs that played video games showed improvements in mood through increased tail wagging and willingness to continue with the games ( The mental exercise and problem solving involved in playing video games can help reduce anxiety and boredom in dogs left home alone.

Playing video games also provides an opportunity for dogs and owners to bond. As reported by Axios, video games allow owners to engage their dog’s natural curiosity in a positive way ( Joint game play strengthens the human-animal connection. Furthermore, video games may improve dogs’ cognitive abilities according to Lifewire, such as their memory, attention span, and ability to solve puzzles ( The mental stimulation can help keep their minds active and delay cognitive decline associated with aging.

Choosing Games for Your Dog

When selecting video games for your dog, it’s important to consider their unique abilities, limitations, and preferences. According to experts at Joipaw, a company that designs video games for dogs, you should “Choose games that match your dog’s energy levels and play-style preferences” ( Some dogs may struggle with certain types of games, like those requiring extensive paw-eye coordination. Start with basic games and see how your dog responds before moving on to more advanced challenges.

It’s also crucial to pick age appropriate games. Like humans, dogs’ cognitive abilities change with age. Puppy brains are still developing, so choose less intensive games for them versus older dogs. Games for senior dogs should stimulate their minds while accommodating any physical limitations. Consulting your vet is wise, as they can assess if specific games may help combat age-related decline for older dogs.

a dog playing a video game

Observe which types of games motivate your dog the most. If they love to fetch, look for games that incorporate this. If they get easily bored, pick games with more variability. Experiment with different game genres and modes to pinpoint your dog’s favorites. Customizable difficulty levels also allow you to tailor the experience to your dog’s skillset.

The key is finding games that are both mentally stimulating and fun for your specific pup. With the right games, video game time can be beneficial playtime for dogs of all ages and abilities.

Multiplayer Games

With the rise of multiplayer gaming, there are now many options for dogs and owners to play together. Cooperative multiplayer games allow dogs and owners to work as a team to accomplish goals or defeat enemies. For example, The Dog Island is an adventure game released for the Wii in 2007 where players care for and control their own virtual dog. Up to 2 players can team up and explore the open world together with their dog companions (The Dog Island, 2007).

There are also competitive multiplayer games where dogs face off against their owners. One example is Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS released in 2005, which allowed owners to connect locally and enter their dogs in competitions like races and disc catching contests (Nintendogs, 2005). Online multiplayer opens up even more possibilities – owners can find other players and dogs around the world to interact with through games like Fallout 4, which features Dogmeat as a loyal canine companion (Fallout 4, 2015).

For local multiplayer fun, the PS2 game Dog’s Life from 2003 let 2 players control their own dog in the same environment, working together or competing in mini-games (Dog’s Life, 2003). While limited, there are some options for dogs and owners to play together through multiplayer dog games.

Popular Video Games for Dogs

Some of the most popular and highly-rated video games that allow players to take on the role of a dog include:

Nintendogs ( – This simulation game for the Nintendo DS and 3DS allows players to care for virtual puppies. Players can train, walk, feed, and play with their dogs. With cute graphics and addictive gameplay, it’s one of the most popular dog games.

WolfQuest ( – Available for PC, Mac, and mobile devices, WolfQuest lets players experience life as a wild wolf. Hunt prey, find a mate, raise pups, and defend your territory. This educational game teaches wolf behavior and ecology.

Dog’s Life ( – In this PlayStation 2 game, players control Jake, a dog who can possess other dogs to solve puzzles and thwart an evil cat’s plans. With humorous scenarios and mission-based gameplay, it’s a cult classic dog game.

Red Dead Redemption 2 ( – This epic Western action-adventure game features a usable dog companion. Players can interact with, command, and form a bond with the loyal canine while exploring the massive open world.

Secret Life of Pets ( – Based on the animated film, this adventure game for consoles and mobile allows players to control both Max the dog and Snowball the rabbit. Perform fetch quests, defeat enemies, and explore New York City.

DIY Video Games

One of the best parts of dog video games is that many can be homemade using ordinary household items. This allows you to customize games based on your dog’s interests and abilities. When designing DIY games, be creative and make the games interactive. Use treats, toys, sounds, and praise as rewards to motivate your dog. Here are some tips for DIY dog video games:

  • Adjust the difficulty based on your dog’s problem-solving abilities. Start simple and make the games harder as your dog learns.
  • Hide treats around the house and have your dog hunt for them. Increase the challenge by hiding treats under cups.
  • Place treats inside cardboard boxes or tubes and let your dog figure out how to get them out.
  • Put kibble or treats in a muffin tin or egg carton and cover some of the openings with balls or toys.
  • Make a homemade snuffle mat out of fleece fabric and hide treats in the tuffs of fabric.

The key is to encourage your dog to use their nose, paws, and problem-solving skills. Monitor your dog during DIY games and adjust the difficulty to avoid frustration.

Safety Considerations

When allowing your dog to play video games, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Monitor all play sessions closely to avoid overstimulation or frustration. Dogs should be properly supervised when playing multiplayer games with other pets to prevent any conflicts or aggression. Ensure your dog knows how to gently handle controllers or other gaming devices to prevent damage. Limit gameplay to reasonable durations based on your dog’s age, health, and temperament.

Veterinarians caution that the flashing lights and intense sounds of video games can potentially trigger seizures in susceptible dogs, especially those predisposed to epilepsy. It’s a good idea to consult your vet if you have any concerns over your dog’s reaction to games. Moderate sensory stimulation is advised, and you may need to avoid certain games completely if your dog has sensitivities. Be mindful of signs of discomfort or overexertion.

According to veterinary experts at South Seattle Veterinary Clinic, “[t]he audio and visual content in video games may result in seizures for dogs. Your dog may have a form of epilepsy that has not been diagnosed yet and the stimulation from video games could trigger a serious medical event.” Therefore, carefully supervise your dog during gameplay and discontinue use if any concerning symptoms arise.

Future of Dog Video Games

The future looks bright for continued innovation in video games for dogs. Developers are exploring new platforms like augmented reality to create more immersive gaming experiences. For example, Joipaw is developing AR games that allow dogs to chase virtual rabbits and cats around the living room. Integrating technologies like computer vision and motion tracking will open up new gameplay mechanics tailored to dogs.

There is also great potential for therapeutic and training games. Games could teach dogs new commands or help engage their brains to slow age-related cognitive decline. For example, Joipaw aims to develop games that generate data to research how play affects a dog’s brain over time. Customizing game difficulty and using biofeedback could enable personalized brain training.

In the future, expect more customization so guardians can design games around their dog’s needs and preferences. Developers are already exploring gaze tracking as an input method so dogs can choose games just by looking at the screen. Platforms like Joipaw allow guardians to select different game modes and difficulty settings tailored to their dog.


In conclusion, video games offer many benefits for dogs when used appropriately. They provide mental stimulation, improve reflexes and coordination, relieve anxiety and boredom, and allow dogs to interact with their owners in new ways. However, not all games are suitable for all dogs. When selecting a video game for your dog, pay attention to their individual personality, activity level, and interests. More active dogs may enjoy motion-controlled games, while less active dogs may prefer puzzle or memory games. Multiplayer games allow dogs and owners to play together. Overall, video games are a fun way to engage a dog’s mind and senses, but they should be used in moderation alongside other activities. With the right games and proper supervision, video game play can be a positive experience, leading to a happier, healthier dog.

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