Dogs are highly social animals, and one way they learn about and build up relationships and communication is through play. Puppies begin to play at about the age of four weeks, spending most of their time chasing their tails, and romping with their littermates, their mother, and even you! So, playing with your dog is a very natural activity for him.
Why You Should Play With Your Dog
Playing with your dog teaches you about your dog’s personality and strengthens the bond between you. Moreover, by providing exercise, preventing boredom, and giving an outlet for your dog’s natural instincts, play helps ensure that inappropriate behavior does not develop. Play also offers many health benefits. It encourages your dog to be active, stay supple, and maintain a healthy body condition.
How Do Dogs Like to Play?
Every dog is different, so your dog’s favorite ways to play will depend on his breed and personality. Generally speaking, collies like to chase, retrievers like to retrieve, and hounds like to use their noses to follow scents and find their toys or you. When your dog is excited, does he want to chase, pounce on, or grab things? Experiment with a few different toys that mimic your dog’s natural play behaviors to determine what your dog likes best. The links below will give you tips on training your dog.
- Tug-of-war is a great game to play with your puppy or adult dog. Buy a rope or tug toy from your local pet store and begin tugging!
- Hide and seek is the perfect game for the park. Tell your dog to stay or sit before hiding behind a tree, then call him to find you. Your dog will combine wind scenting (sniffing the air) and tracking (sniffing the ground) to greet you with his tail wagging excitedly.
- Fetch is a great form of exercise because it’s a fast-paced game. Throw a ball or toy a far enough distance for your dog to run and bring it back to you. Make sure any objects to be chased are not small enough to be swallowed.
Keep toys out of sight between doggy playtimes. This prevents your dog from getting too familiar with his toys so that their reappearance will be met with enthusiasm.
Playing With Your Dog – Basic Rules
- Before engaging in regular play, make sure you can easily take things away from your dog. If not, teach him the leave command.
- Avoid playing rough and tumble or wrestling games or allowing your dog to chase children. These activities are exciting for your dog but can encourage him to get out of your control.
- Keep your dog’s toys below waist height so that you don’t encourage him to jump up.
- Encourage your dog to play by using an excited voice with lots of encouragement and praise.
- Engage in frequent, daily play sessions at home and when out for walks.
- Play a game in short bursts of up to five minutes and end the activity while your dog is still keen to play.
- Only begin a game when your dog is doing something you want, e.g., lying down quietly. This will encourage good behavior.
- Whatever your dog’s favorite games, have fun!
Final Playful Thoughts
Playing with your dog is one of the most pleasurable things about having a canine friend. Be creative, have fun, and see how doggy playtime benefits you both! CVETS wants your dog to be in the best condition to enjoy playtime, so if you live in our area (Columbia, SC) and need emergency help, don’t hesitate to contact us.