How often do you play with your dog? For many owners, the answer would be “whenever I have the time”. If you can relate, then this probably means that playtime isn’t a scheduled part of your dog’s daily routine, even though it really should be. Why? Because in addition to being plenty of fun for your pooch, playtime brings with it a number of other benefits too.
Playtime is a Great Way to Work On Your Training
Whether you have a young puppy or a senior dog, playing with your pooch is a great way to reinforce basic obedience training. Let’s say the two of you are playing tug, for example. This is a fantastic game for practicing the “drop it” and “leave it” commands. The same applies if you’re playing a game of fetch. You could also ask for a “sit” or a “down” before you throw the ball each time.
Since play is something that most dogs really enjoy, it makes training so much more fun for them.
Playtime Gives Your Dog a Workout
Exercise is so important for a dog’s physical health. It keeps their heart healthy, lubricates their joints, and helps with their coordination and balance. Granted, you may take your dog for regular walks, but chances are that a walk won’t get your dog’s heart racing in the same way as an intense, high-energy game of fetch or frisbee.
You don’t have to play for long in order for your dog to enjoy these health benefits. Even a ten minute play session each day will bring about these improvements.
Playtime Relieves Stress
Chances are that you’re very familiar with feeling stressed. Perhaps you’ve also even experienced anxiety or depression. Well, did you know that your dog can feel this way too?
Fortunately, play is a great way to relieve stress, both for you and your dog! In fact, there are even studies to back up how play can relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety in a dog. Find a game that both you and your dog enjoy playing and you’ll both be feeling stress-free after each session!
Playtime Reduces Behavioral Problems
There are a few reasons why your dog may be displaying these behaviors, but one of the biggest is usually boredom. A bored dog will try to find a way to keep themselves entertained, and chewing and barking help them to do this!
Regularly playing with your dog will help to relieve this boredom. You’ll be engaging them and mentally stimulating them, so they won’t feel such a strong need to then later act out. Plus, the fact that they’ll also be tired after a play session means that they’re much more likely to just lie down and have a nap once you’re done, rather than turning destructive.
Playtime Will Strengthen the Bond Between You and Your Dog
Playing with your dog should be something that you both enjoy. As a result, this quality time will help to strengthen the bond between the two of you. Your dog will learn to trust you more and will look to you for leadership. Make play a regular part of daily life and this will soon become a time that you’ll both really look forward to.
How Should You Play with Your Dog?
Ready to get playing with your pooch? There are so many ways in which you can do this – the only thing that’ll limit you is your imagination.
To start with, you have all of the conventional games, some of which we’ve already mentioned. Fetch, frisbee, tug of war – these are all easy to teach a dog.
If you’d like to get a little more creative, try setting up your own agility course. You could also play chasing games, whether this involves your dog chasing you or your dog chasing something else, such as dog-safe bubbles. If you have access to a pool or the sea, playing in water can be so much fun! Plus, swimming is great for a dog’s health. If you don’t have access to a big body of water, then even a hose pipe, a sprinkler, or a paddling pool can still provide hours of entertainment.
As you can see, there are so many reasons why you should be playing with your dog regularly each day. Not only is this something that’ll benefit your dog, but you’ll gain lots of enjoyment from it too!