Serious Fun, Serious Business: Why Your Dog Needs Playtime

Serious Fun, Serious Business: Why Your Dog Needs Playtime
August 14 10:49 2018 Print This Article

All work and no play makes Fido a dull (and unhealthy) boy.

As a pet owner, you want to give your dog everything that he needs to become healthy and happy. To most pet owners, that means providing him with healthy and delicious dog food (plus the occasional treat), regular visits to the vet, and daily walks.

But unbeknownst to some owners, dogs need to play with their humans on a regular basis, not only when you have some free time.

The importance of play

Why is play important for your furry little pal?

According to researchers, playtime is critical for the health and well-being of dogs for a few important reasons:

  • For one, the lack of playtime has been associated with behavioral problems, including whining, anxiety, aggression, and jumping up on people. Playing regularly with your pet allows him to stimulate his mind and further develop his focus.
  • Playtime also helps Fido maintain a healthy weight. Just a few playtime sessions spread out throughout the day can help you combat obesity in your beloved pet. And according to veterinarians, maintaining a healthy weight helps dogs keep some diseases and medical problems at bay while helping increase their lifespan.
  • Dogs that play regularly also become better behaved around other people and other dogs.

  • Finally, playtime benefits not only your dog. On one hand, spending some time with your dog to play games strengthens your bond with him. You also get the opportunity to do some physical activities and lower your stress levels.

Laying down some rules

Just like walking, you should not allow your dog to take the lead while you simply move along with your dog.

When playing with your dog, it is important to lay down some ground rules to prevent things from getting out of hand.

  1. Spread out playtime throughout the day. Each session should only last five minutes, even if you think that your pet wants more.
  2. Shower your dog with words of praise and encouragement.
  3. Encourage good behavior by initiating play only when your pet does something that you want. It can be as simple as following basic commands.
  4. If you wish to incorporate all kinds of dog toys with playtime, make sure that the toys you use are small. Bigger toys will only encourage your little buddy to jump up. Remember to regularly clean your pet’s toys.
  5. Avoid playing wrestling and chasing games with your dog. Although your pet may like it, those games can over-excite him and can hurt you or your children when things get out of hand.
  6. Use playtime for training. Remember, games should also engage your dog’s brain. Incorporate simple training and commands when playing with your pet.

What games can you play with your dog?

Broadly speaking, there are four types of games that you can play with your pet:

Hide and seek

Many dog breeds have been bred to develop hunting skills, many of which remain largely unused. You can tap into these hunting skills by playing searching games.

Find a toy that your dog loves, hide it somewhere around the house, and encourage him to find it. If he doesn’t like toys, you can use treats or even his food. Just remember, do not hide the toy or treat in a place you do not want your dog to go.

Pounce and shake

Pounce and shake games can be played by dogs by themselves and involve squeaky toys. All you have to do is to throw the toy to your pet until he catches it.

Your dog will shake his toy until the squeaking stops. Here, it is important for pet owners to keep a watchful eye on their dogs.

Chase

Many dogs love playing chase and retrieve but this type of game requires some bit of training. Here, it is important for you to teach your pet to give his toy back to you after retrieving it.

Choose a toy small enough for his mouth but big enough to prevent swallowing. Coax your dog to return the toy to you by offering him praise and even some treats. Over time, he will learn that bringing you back the toy can be rewarding.

Tug of war

Although some people discourage pet owners from playing tug of war games with dogs, this type of game can discourage pets from grabbing pieces of clothing.

With this game, it is important to establish a few rules. One important rule is teaching your dog the “leave it” command. You can also maintain control during playtime by stopping and starting the game when your pet becomes too excited.

Remember, playtime is good, not only for your pet, but also for you. Earmark a few minutes each day for play and you and Fido will reap great rewards.

AUTHOR BIO

Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.

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Clare Louise
Clare Louise

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