One of the best things in owning a dog is the fact that you can play with it whenever and wherever you want. You can play out in the open in the park or anywhere in the outdoor world, and you can also play inside on rainy days. Your pet won’t refuse some fun bonding time. In fact, he or she needs it more than you might know.
What happens if you don’t play with your dog?
If you don’t have the time, energy and willingness to play with your canine friend on regular basis, it may lead to destructive consequences. Your pup will have tons of excess energy, it will suffer from lack of entertainment, and it will crave attention and social interaction. The dog will become restless, it will start blowing off steam on your furniture, and in some cases might even become obese from not being able to burn all those calories.
How often should you play with your dog?
Between taking care of school, work, family, social life and so forth, no human being can play 24/7 with their dog. However, each play session contributes to entertainment, exercise, social contact and bonding. Thus, playing with your puppy at least once on daily basis is of intrinsic importance for both you and your pet. Of course, each dog is unique on its own just like humans are. As such, each pup will require different play sessions in terms of length. For some breeds 10-minute long sessions a couple of times a day will be enough, whereas others might even require hours spent in playing on daily basis.
How to play with your dog?
If you’re a new dog owner, it’s perfectly understandable to ask yourself this question. On the other hand, it’s not shameful to admit that even though you’ve been a pet parent for a while, you still don’t know how to engage your canine friend in proper play sessions.
You can play with your pet in a variety of ways depending on your location. You can either play inside or out in the open. If you’re residing in a smaller house or apartment, indoor activities are fundamental because your pet doesn’t have enough free space to roam around and let all that excess energy out.
Playing with your dog outside
The outdoor world is filled with numerous opportunities for play sessions for you and your dog. You can vary the games with different toys and rules. Bubble wands with soapy solutions, for example, are an awesome make-shift toy because canines adore chasing them all over the place.
Fetch is among the most popular options for outdoor games for dogs. Balls, ropes, Frisbee disks and plain sticks/ branches are ideal for playing fetch as they can be used either on hard terrain or in the pool/ ocean.
Chasing is another efficient way to exercise your pet and to spend some quality bonding time with it while enjoying yourself. You and your canine pal can chase each other around or you can use toys for that purpose, such as remote controlled ones, tennis balls or even big volleyballs. Moreover, you can also play the chasing game if you happen to find rotating sprinklers. Any water hose can easily substitute the sprinklers.
Tug-of-war is undeniably a top pick for most dog owners out there. How to play tug with your dog? It’s actually quite easy. If you’ve never done it before, just remember that there are two basic rules – the dog must always obey you and you must always be in control of the game. This means that you must teach the dog to respond to commands like “Let go”, “Release”, and “Stay”. When it refuses to listen to you, restrain it and quit the game at once. It’s essential for your dog to learn that you’re the one making the rules and that if it starts acting out, you’ll stop playing with it.
Playing tug not only strengthens your relationship with your pet, but it also trains it mentally and physically in the same time. It’s a challenging, yet entertaining game, which is ideal for the outdoors. Nonetheless, you can still play it inside if you have enough room for it.
Playing with your dog inside
How to play with your dog inside? You might be surprised, but there’s a vast variety of ways to entertain your canine pal within the borders of your house or apartment when you can’t go outside.
Set up hiding spots for treats and encourage your puppy to find them. Keep praising it each time it discovers a new location. This game is excellent for exercising muscles, olfaction, and inborn hunting instincts. It’s also fun for the dog because it gets a tasty reward. One of the lazier versions of this game is the Shell Game where you’re using 3 or more cups and hiding a treat in only one of them before making the dog guess the treat’s location.
Performing tricks is another great option for indoor games. It actually combines the pleasure of the tasty reward with the mental stimulation of learning and performing new tricks. Quick tip – don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that your pet is too old to learn something new!
Use toys for playing fetch. This trust-building, bonding game is ideal for exercising dogs of all breeds and ages. If you’re residing in a small house or apartment, move some things around to make room for running. You can use chewable toys, stuffed animals, balls and so forth when playing fetch.
Lastly, you can also opt for playing hide and seek. That won’t work for young puppies as they get easily distracted, but if your pet is around a year old or so, you can easily have fun with it while playing this old-school game.
How to teach your dog to play with toys
Some canine breeds are more susceptible to training than others. What’s more, it’s completely natural for your pup to be notably picky in terms of expressing interest in particular toys.
Teaching your dog to play with toys is easier when the toys are appealing to it. Discover your doggie’s preferences towards balls, stuffed animals, lasers and other interactive toys. Some pet supplies manufacturers offer special chewable toys, which are made of non-toxic materials. They easily break down in your pup’s stomach if it rips off a small particle and decides to swallow it. Others offer scented items, which are specifically designed to appear more appealing to the canine olfaction.
If you can’t find such items, you can easily teach your canine friend to play with regular toys. Encourage the dog each time it picks up a toy with verbal and physical praises. Start playing with the toy by yourself and show your dog how much enjoyment you’re getting out of having the toy, thus tricking into thinking that it must try it out. Opt for squeaking toys or even the ones with hollow centers in which you can place a small dog treat.
Training a dog requires efforts, time, devotion and patience, whether it’d be for games or for something else. Don’t ever shout, hit or punish your pet in other brutal ways just because it’s not acting properly all the time. Instead, apply the positive reinforcement technique. Putting an abrupt end to a game is enough to teach the dog that improper behavior results in ending its fun. Trick your canine pal into thinking that good behavior equals a rewarding experience instead of making him/ her hate you for treating him/ her badly for each wrongdoing.