Watchdog

This is a great game to play with a group of young children at a party or a large group. It’s especially great for dog lovers, although it can be adapted for any kind of fierce animal the children might want to imitate.

Number of players 8+
Ages: 4-8
Space: a good-sized room.

To begin, all the players sit in a circle, except for one child who is chosen as the “Watchdog.” This player sits in a chair in the center of the ring, and either closes her eyes or his blindfolded. A “bone” is placed under the watchdog’s chair. The bone can be a block or any comparably sized object. The leader points randomly at one of the players in the circle, who tries to get the bone back to his place without “waking” the watchdog. If he makes a noise in the circle, the dog growls; and if they’re near the chair, the dog “awakens” by taking off the blindfold or opening her eyes and jumping from her chair. The player who was trying to get the bone becomes the watchdog in the next round.

If the child in the circle successfully gets the bone without disturbing (being heard by) the watchdog, he hides it behind him or under him and tries not to show by his expression that he has it. All of the children in the circle call “Watchdog! Watchdog! Wake up!”

The dog gets down from the chair and walks around the circle trying to tell which child has the bone. She has three guesses. If correct, she is the watchdog again. If she doesn’t guess right, she loses her turn and the one who has the bone becomes the watchdog.

Of course, half the fun in playing the game is watching the watchdog ham it up by acting like a dog with fierce growls and barks. The rules can be altered so the players in the circle can make noises to protect the bone stealer. These forms of distraction can also take some pretty funny directions.