Playing with your energetic dog is an invaluable part of your relationship with them and what’s more, playing together on a daily basis helps both of you stay physically and emotionally healthy – what more excuse do you need?
Your dog will love nothing more than interacting with you, and the fun they have when playing is a reward in itself! Keep reading to find out about playing with your dog as Purina’s Pet Behaviourist explains what games our pets love to get up to.
Playing with your dog
Play isn’t just a fun part of living with your dog. It’s actually an essential feature of how we all stay emotionally and physically healthy. So it’s important for both your physical and social well-being to play with your dog on a daily basis.
Of course, the games you play depend on whether you have a cat or a dog, and if you have a dog, what type of dog you have. Retrievers like to retrieve, Collies like chasing, and Hounds like to use their nose to follow scents and find their toys. And of course, many dogs enjoy tug and chew toys and playing ‘hide and seek’ with you outdoors.
Feeding dogs should also be more of a game than simply filling a food bowl. Use some of your pet’s daily rations as rewards in regular training sessions, either to teach obedience in dogs or even to teach your cat some tricks, such as rolling over and playing dead.
Place a proportion of your dog’s food in special foraging toys, available in all good pet stores, and hide them in different locations around your home every day. Your pet will have to seek out the toy, and then manipulate it to obtain their food. It’s a much more challenging, stimulating and rewarding prospect than simply visiting the food bowl.
Above all, whatever game you play, have fun.
Why should you use find’n’seek food games when playing with your dog?
Our resident Pet Behaviourist explains why find’n’seek food games are so much fun. Your dog will also love playing these games as part of dog playtime – after all, every clever animal loves a challenge.
In short, your dog has a lot of natural intelligence that needs to be exercised in order to keep them satisfied – and one of the best ways to do this is by making them ‘hunt’ for their food.
A dog that has their food given to them in an easy or ‘boring’ way will want to occupy themselves in another manner – perhaps by chewing the sofa, vying for your attention, or playing with things you don’t want them to, all of which might develop into a behavioural problem without care. Bored pets may also sleep a lot – which makes them more lethargic, which in turn makes them want to exercise even less, leading to more weight gain. Rather than enter that vicious circle, a good find’n’seek food game will combine eating with exercise, just as your dog would do in the wild.
In fact, making your dog’s meal a form of playtime means they’ll never be bored by their dinner – and you’ll probably have tonnes of fun in the bargain!
Playing as a form of dog exercise
We all know that dogs burn off a lot of energy as they’re chasing balls, playing dog sports and being taken on walks - and it's a great form of playtime too! Play is very important to your dog; from puppyhood right through to old age, they’ll love batting, chasing and pouncing all kinds of things! In fact, playing with your dog is one of the most enjoyable things about having one as a pet.
It also offers great health benefits, encouraging your dog to be active, keep supple and maintain a sleek body condition.
Puppies start to play from about four weeks old, spending most of their time chasing and playing with their littermates, their mother and even you! Why not try some of these great toys to keep your little puppy or dog occupied?
- Tug-of-war is a great game to play with your puppy or dog. Buy a tug toy or rope from your local pet shop and begin playing with your dog!
- Hide and seek can be played at home or in the park, so it’s always a great game to play with your dog! Start by telling your dog to sit or stay before hiding behind a tree or a piece of furniture. Once you feel out of sight, call your dog or puppy to come and find you!
- Fetch is a fast-paced game and a great form of exercise too! Throw a soft toy far enough for your dog to go and bring back to you.
Just remember to keep toys out of sight between dog play time sessions: this stops your dog getting too familiar with the objects, so their reappearance is met with enthusiasm. And avoid using your fingers or toes as toys, or you will soon become your dog's favourite chew toy!
Sport as a form of dog exercise
From gentle obedience training to energetic games like flyball, there’s tonnes of different stuff you and your dog can be involved with to make playing with your dog a form of exercise.
So just remember that playtime isn’t just a luxury – it’s a necessity for your pet’s health and general well-being. But whatever happens, and whatever your pet’s unique personality, playtime should never feel like a chore. Be creative, have fun, and see how it benefits you both!
Have fun with these puppy play and sports ideas, next.