In most animals playfulness begins slowly to disappear as they become adults. However, humans bred dogs in such way that canines maintain playfulness and desire for play lifelong. I guess this is one of the traits that we value in dogs the most. That goofy, enthusiastic, positive behaviour of them that makes dogs hard to resist.
Play is important for physical and mental development. Through play puppies learn coordination, self-defence, bite inhibition and their limits. Orphan puppies or those separated early in life from others, later tend to be poor socialised and aggressive towards other dogs.
So you get a new puppy, what’s next? The key element to building a good relationship is play. Your puppy is new at your home and you do not want to burden it immediately with obedience training. First, get to know each other, have a lot of fun and when the time is right learning will be a lot easier.
So what should I play with my dog? Play is a way to drench that excess energy of your pup. Challenging the dog physically and mentally will leave it calmer and less destructive. According to the breed or genes, your puppy may prefer one game or another. There are 4 main categories of games:
- Fetch and retrieve – preferred by herding and hunting dogs. Most suitable toys are balls and frisbees.
- Tug of war games – guarding dogs like to pull on that knotted rope and they do not give up that easily.
- “Shake and kill” are terrier favourite. If you buy a squeaky toy, the game will be twice as exciting!
- Hide and search – hounds love it. Any toy or treats will do.
For any game you choose buy good quality toys. Take into consideration – size of your puppy, age and jaw strength. Soft but durable toys will make sure the dog does not injury itself and does not swallow plastic parts of the toy that can later get lodged in the intestines. Make certain toys special. Once you discover a toy that your dog really likes, keep this toy exclusively for play and do not leave it laying somewhere around for your dog to play alone. Treat the toy as a very interesting and precious animal. Tease your dog by dropping the toy and quickly snatching it again. This toy will become a reward in future trainings.
Keep in mind that puppies do not know initially how to play with humans. They are used to games with other dogs – mouthing, biting, rolling around. You should not tolerate your dog biting your hands or feet, instead offer a toy. If the play gets rough and out of hand, just say stop and leave the play area.
Incorporate play in your daily life. Advertisement is playing on TV, you are waiting for toast to be ready, use this chance to play with your dog. Keep many toys hidden around the house or carry one around. Keep the play sessions short and overly exciting. Stop while your dog is still willing to play.
The more time you spend playing with your puppy the more it will adore you. So don’t forget to play with your dog no matter how old it is!