We understand dog games as Together-time with our dog, playing games together. While dog toys are those that the dog can play alone with. Obviously, some toys can also be games, and not all games require a toy. But all games require us.
This clear distinction is helpful not least for our site's mission: To help you build the BEST relationship with your GSD. Dog games help for Relationship Building, dog toys do not (yet they avoid boredom, hopefully).
Now, we can play with our dog however we like, but wouldn't it be great if we played in a way that promotes our relationship, rather than harms it?
Need an example? Sure: Say, we play with our dog with a ball, and we instruct the dog what to do, and when (COME HERE, SIT, GIVE ME THE BALL, FETCH THE BALL, etc). Then we use command training. But hey! During PLAY? When we want to improve the relationship with our dog? Can commanding during PLAY, and thus limiting if not ruining the dog's FUN, improve the relationship? Certainly not. I routinely make this mistake myself, and that's bad.
Another example: Say, we play "Find it" with our dog, and we permanently feel the urge to help the dog to, well, find it! You know this too, right? That's bad as well, because we don't let our dog try things out, go new ways, discover new solutions - and failures. We won't improve the relationship by permanently restricting the dog to what we feel the dog should do, right?
Further, only when we let the dog take initiative during PLAY, the dog can develop his brain, can grow mentally. This point has been particularly important for My New Puppy because, diplomatically said, he isn't the brightest of German Shepherd dogs. Thus I have to develop his mental skillset by letting him take initiative and discover new things all by himself. And often.
This also highlights that dog games aren't always about physical exercise. Not sure who really coined the term "brain games", but that's exactly what we need to play with our dog too: Games that challenge, and thus train, our dog's mental skillset. While we can easily come up with some homemade makeshift games, there also exist wonderful commercial brain games that last longer and are easier to clean than our makeshift brain games. Nina Ottosson is world-famous for arguably the best brain games.
While seemingly all brain games are presented as treat toys, be aware that we don't have to fill them with foods. In fact, I found that without involving foods the games play much better: The dog's mental skill development doesn't get distracted by something as mundane as food.
For a quick overview of some top games to play with the dog see our dog remedies table here.
We have an entire series of MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICALS on games to play with your dog. We even have a very comprehensive list of dog game criteria and how to play right. You may subscribe for free to our Periodicals here.
Note that every key point raised above you can find more comprehensively explained in other places on this website. The menu is your friend. Here, links have been omitted only to keep this decision tree straightforward.
PLEASE NOTE: Posting a fragment of your overall dog problem in the comments below is not going to help. Provide complete details if you really seek the right solution. Of course we have a page for that as well: Dog Problem Consultation.