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"Dog mölkky"

Molkky is a very popular Finnish throwing game. “Dog molkky” is a variation of the traditional version of molkky. The main difference is that you do not throw a wooden pin, but use a dog to knock down the numbered pins :-). We got the idea for the game during the summer when Bettina, while losing badly, decided to use one of our dogs to get the pin with the highest number. Laughingly we joked that if only we were allowed to use dogs. But why not? :-)

During the first game we noticed that our game strategies depended completely on which dog we were using. It was much easier and we got more points by directing the Newfs to get specific pins (highest numbers), rather than to get them to knock the pins down (1 point per knocked pin). Capri, even though the slowest, was much more precise than the other dogs, always bringing back the pins with the highest numbers. Vera worked the same way. Ruuti brought the pins back really well, but she lacked Capri's and Vera's precision, so she took the first pin that she saw and brought that back. At times it was easier to just direct Ruuti to knock as many pins down as possible. The wooden pins were far too big for Data the pug, so we instructed her to spin in the middle of the pins to knock as many down as possible.

At once we realized that the game was excellent training for control and remote commands. The commands we used in the game (forward, no, find, take, let go, back, come...) were exactly the same as the ones we use in waterwork. The game is also excellent practice for sending the dog into an “empty space”, which is an essential skill for any waterwork dog when waves prevent the dog from seeing the dummy, rope etc..



You can participate as a team or alone. The game can be played anywhere. The ground's unevenness can bring fun challenge to the game. The order in which you play is not important, as long as the order stays the same throughout the game. The results are written down and the number of rounds, which depend on the dog's motivation and skill, is decided before the game begins.

You can also play by points. The first player to get 25 points wins. For team games, the team to first get the number of players x 25 points wins (e.g. 4 players x 25 = 100 points).

Before starting the game the wooden pins, which are numbered from 1-12 are placed in a tight grouping about 4 meters away from the players (Figure 1). The time limit is 1 minute per dog per round. You can change the time limit and the distances according to the skill of the dogs. The player has to stay behind the starting line throughout the game.

Figure 1: The placement of the wooden pins

There are two main possible game strategies: “subtle” and “smashing”.

The player can send the dog to fetch a specific wooden pin (e.g. pin with the biggest number – number 12). You can give the dog as many commands as you want, but you cannot touch the dog once it has crossed the starting line. The round ends when the dog has crossed the starting line again. The dog can change the pin in the middle of the round. You get as many points as the pin's number, but you only get the points if the dog brings the pin all the way back to you over the starting line. For very advanced dogs, you can require the dog to bring the pin all the way to your hand.

You can also be less subtle and direct your dog to go and knock down as many pins as possible. You get one point for each knocked down pin. You do not count the pin as knocked down when it rests against the other pins. If you decide to direct your dog to knock down the pins, you can use an assistant. The assistant (1m from pins) can call the dog (dog runs through the pins) after which the owner can call the dog back (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The placement of the players

Always play strategically. E.g. when the dog has taken the pin with a low number, but has knocked down more than the low number is worth, tell the dog to drop the pin (you get more points). You can also command the dog to let go and go back and find a new pin to bring back.

After each dog, the pins are put upright in exactly the same place they fell. If the dog brings a pin over the starting line, the pin is placed upright in the middle of the wooden pins.


Hints for the game:

-You can give the assistant a dummy/treats

-You can command the dog to lie down/sit in the middle of the pins

-You can command the dog to spin around in the middle of the pins


You can use any commands the dog knows to try and get as many points as possible!


If you have any questions about the rules, please email us.


(c) Salmelin