Can dogs play football?

They need exercise. Most of them love balls too (just like us!). But can dogs play football?

In this article, we will show you that you can play with your pup, help keep them healthy and happy, and share laughs with you through the magic of footie.

All you need to do is become his coach and trainer!

Well, OK – it’s not as easy as that.  It will take a lot of time and practice. If you’re game, here are some tips and suggestions on how you can transform your pooch into the canine Jack Grealish or Erling Haaland of Dogville Town.

What you’ll need

  • A fully-inflated ball – regular size for medium to large dog.
  • Treats – as rewards for ball control, dribbling, and fetching
  • A goal  – this could be a child’s net or two chairs with towel tied between legs for a net.
  • A clicker – something to use in all your reward-based training
  • Choose a suitable area – if outside, it should be grassy and somewhere that the ball won’t go too far.
  • Choose a special word – like ‘football’ to let him know it’s time to play, and to push the ball.
Dog with soccer ball
Photo by Luiza Sayfullina on Unsplash

Plan of action

‘Charge the clicker‘ – this is the term for teaching dogs to associate the sound of the clicker with the reward.  Click the clicker whilst giving out a treat, and repeat it a few times.

Clicker with target association – now link the clicker sound to a target, such as your hand.  Get them to sniff it in tandem with the clicker sound (and reward).  Repeat a number of times.  Then Place your hand in a different position/location and repeat the process. You should click at the very moment your dog performs the action.

Make the ball the target – Place a treat inside your dog’s bowl, and the ball on top of it. Use your given word. Allow them to work out how to get the treat inside the bowl by moving the ball.  Click when action is performed and repeat.  

At first, you may need to help by showing your dog, and so move the bowl with your hand.

Take your dog to an outside area – Place the ball on the ground and reward any behaviour that includes them noticing or paying attention to it. If necessary, move the ball to refocus your dog’s attention. 

Keep the step controlled, rather than allowing him /her to get carried away with the ball for now.  Again, repetition is important.

Touch the ball.  Reward your dog for doing this with its nose or paw. He may need encouragement, and this process may take a while. Be sure to repeat a few times and continue to reward/click.

Click and reward for moving ball with nose or paw.  This is the logical next step.  Reward even slight moving and repeat, encouraging your pooch to move the ball further with the nose/paw.

Encourage to push / paw into a goal.  Set up the goal area and have it nearby.  Put the ball slightly in front of the goal.  Allow your dog to push with his nose/paws and reward any behaviour that moves the ball further. 

Keep repeating with goal further away from the ball, until your dog masters the art of dribbling and goal scoring!

Can dogs play football? Yes they can!

If anyone ever asks you this question (and why wouldn’t they?!) you can use the above technique to give out a resounding answer. It might not be to quite the same standard as Roberto Mancini’s Italian players, but then – not many are.

Looking for something amaze-balls? Why not try out our themed boxes. Treat your dog to monthly goodies