Dogs are kind of like humans, in the sense that they love to play. Playing with your dog is not only good for their mental and emotional wellbeing but benefits their physical health too. Some dogs require longer play times while some are happy to clock in every 15 to 20 minutes with you twice a day. Whatever your dog’s temperament is, you have to keep things interesting in your games so that they keep moving and neither of you gets bored.
How Does Your Dog Benefit from Playing?
Playing with your pet dogs can be very beneficial for them. Here’s how playing benefits dogs –
1. He Gets Moving
When you play with your dog outside and let them run and move, it improves the blood flow in their bodies and lubricates their joints. It stresses their bones and helps improve bone density.
2. He Learns to Interact
When you play with your dog and command him to follow the rules, he literally learns the rules of the games. As he familiarizes himself with the rules, he learns what is considered acceptable behaviour or not. He learns how to interact with you and others and how to respond to social cues.
3. It Improves the Bond
The more you play with your dog, the more you will see him bonding with you. Playing is not just a physical act but an emotional and spiritual experience too. You both will learn to interact with each other without talking, just by reading each other’s body language. You will get to know each other on a more intuitive and instinctive level.
4. It Stimulates His Brain
Mentally stimulating games like puzzle games can keep your pooch from getting bored. The physical activities which involve brain teasers will help your dog think harder and keep his mind engaged. This can help improve his mood. This way your dog stays mentally active and you don’t have to worry about the development of any behavioural problems either due to this.
5. It Helps Him Calm Down
Behavioural issues in dogs like chewing on the shoes, destroying the sofa, or making a mess around the house are a result of boredom and frustration. When you play with your dog, you help channelise his energy into something good and keep him busy. And when he has fun, he is less likely to make a mess in your home.
Tips to Remember Before You Start Playing With Your Dog
Before you start playing with your dog indoors or outdoors, here are a couple of tips that you should keep in mind to make the most of the play time.
1. Learn About His Play Style
Your dog’s personality and temperament will influence his play style. Learn about it by reading cues. Does your dog prefer more mentally stimulating games or does he like taking the physical route? Find out whether he enjoys playing in a group or solo with you. Think about these factors before deciding on the game.
2. Don’t Use Choking Materials
When you consider buying a toy for your dog, make sure the toy you buy is safe. Keep in mind that the parts of the toys aren’t small, as your dog might choke them. Be careful before buying a toy for your dog.
3. Keep the Toy Below Your Waist
When using any toys to play with your dog, set it below your waist level. This’ll make sure that he doesn’t pounce on you and bring you to the floor.
4. Play Often
You don’t have to play for long sessions but whenever you play make sure your dog has fun. Remember quality over quantity matters always.
5. Be Polite
Talk to your dog in a polite and positive tone. Your dog has feelings too and the more you praise him, the happier he will be. So, be polite when commanding him. He will respond to you and like you.
6. Invite Your Friends
Switch things up every now and then by inviting your friends (and their dogs) to the party. The more the merrier. Your dog will learn to interact with others and he will become social.
7. Don’t Force Him to Play
If your dog is not in the mood to play, don’t force him. He may have his highs and lows too. Give him some alone time. When he feels better, he will come around and urge you to play with him.
8. Take Your Time
When you play a game with your dog, keep it natural. If it takes you both 10 more minutes to end the game, so be it. Don’t disrupt the natural flow and allow yourselves to have fun.
9. Give Him Healthy Foods
10. Learn to Read Cues
Learn how to read emotional and behavioural cues before and during the game. This will help you interact better and spot signs when something is wrong.
11. Teach Him to Let Go
Before you even start playing, teach your dog to let go of the toy or the leave command. This will make things a lot easier.
12. Don’t Get Him Too Excited
Don’t let your dog dictate the pace of the game. Keep an eye out for him since exciting him too much may lead to pushy or dominant behaviour in him.
13. Mind the Environment
Make sure you decide on a place where it’s safe to play, move around, and where there aren’t many distractions. A quiet spot in the park, in your backyard, and a pet’s playground are safe bets.
How to Start Playing With a Dog
Don’t rush things when you start playing with your dog. Chances are that if your dog hasn’t socialised before, things can get quickly overwhelming for him. Start by leaving around toys in the house and let him sniff or discover what they are. Keep some treats nearby those toys so that they associate play time with rewards and fun moments. Once he’s familiar with the toys, it’s your cue to start interacting with him using the toy. See how they respond and reply positively or reward them when they get the commands or cues right.
How to Pick the Right Toys for Your Dog
Here’s how you pick the right toys for your dog:
- Make sure you buy different types of toys for every single day – one for chewing, destroying, playing, and poking or nitpicking around with.
- Keep household items away since your dog can’t tell the difference between them and the toys you pick.
- Throw away any soft toys that your dog chews out or damages, like tennis balls and the soft toys with squeakers.
- Buy hard rubber toys because they last longer and are durable.
- Plush toys work best as comfort toys but make sure they’re the right size and durable so that they don’t end up getting chewed or choked on.
- Consider the size of your dog before buying the toy. Getting a toy that’s oversized or undersized may frustrate him.
Fun Games That Your Dog Will Love to Play With You
Here are some fun games that your dog will simply love to play with you.
1. Flirt Pole
We like to call it the “chasing the treat” game.
How to Play
Get a stick and tie a rope to it. At the end of the rope, attach a treat or something chewable but not a choking hazard. Flail the stick around and let your dog run after it.
2. Go, Fetch!
Get a tennis ball or something soft or squishy, and play fetch with your dog.
How to Play
Throw the ball far away and yell “Fetch!” Your dog should chase it and retrieve it for you. Throw it in different directions to make the game interesting.
3. DIY Obstacle Course
You can make your own DIY obstacle course in your backyard and outdoors to play with your dog.
How to Play
Get hula hoops, blankets, and some mini cones. Line them up in a way that your dog has to jump over, through, and manoeuvre around them quickly within a time limit.
4. Water Games
Playing with a puppy in the water will be a fun experience for him.
How to Play
You can play ‘Go, fetch’ with your dog in water or have a swimming race with your dog for fun.
5. The Digging Box
The digging box game can be a fun experience for a dog.
How to Play
Get a box, fill it up with toys and cover the toys with sand. Dig a hole and bury the box in the ground. Let your dog dig and relish in the discovery.
6. Hide and Seek
It is a classic game that never gets old.
How to Play
Hide in a spot and call out to start the game. Let your dog find you and praise him when he does.
7. Locate the Treats
It’s a fun game with rewards in every step of the game.
How to Play
Stash treats around the house and yell the “release” command. Let your dog find the treats, enjoy them, and get complimented for a job well done.
Here are some frequently asked questions about playing with dogs.
1. For How Long Should I Play With My Dog Every Day?
There are no set rules but try to aim for at least between 30 to 180 minutes of physical activity a day.
2. How to Make a Dog More Playful?
To get your dog interested in games, encourage him and treat him. It will make your canine happy and he will look forward to playtime with you.
Just like you, your dog has his own tastes and preferences. Treat him like how you’d treat a good friend and you’ll see a strong bond forming between the two of you.