dog playing in the park

Playing with your Dog

Setting the right challenges when playing with your dog

Playing with your dog is an important part of their training. Every time you interact with your dog you are using a form of training.

If a activity is rewarding to the dog, then they will repeat it. Play will build an excited energy in your dog and when you put a structure to the games the energy will increases and decreases. Humans over-complicate things when it comes to dogs and their behaviours. We as humans need to learn how to patiently observe dogs and use our own body language so that our dogs find it easier understand us and consequently each other. Dogs have powerful drives which are a major factor in play and social interactions. Mother Nature is telling them to react to a certain stimulus in a certain way.

white german shepherd dog

We can use these factors in our play with our dogs to stimulate our dogs both mentally and physically to ultimately achieve calm and relaxed dogs. Without the human dogs can still play as they have natural games like:chase, possession , toy pulling, dig the garden! These games can sometimes be disastrous in our homes if your dog decides to play with an inappropriate item or the timing of the play is wrong.

If you can manage to keep dogs from performing these activities at these times you can then give them an outlet to through you to enjoy their favourite activities. This is ultimately then you leading the play especially with young dogs as the experience of the first games are important. We can teach them tug and chase activities but we should also teach them when and where to play these games.

Some people say including myself we should discourage tug because ‘it makes dogs aggressive but that is not always the truth. In my experience it comes down to the dog’s individual temperament. It is important for any good game to set the rules of the game from the start.

There are lots games we can play with our dog but think about your dog’s natural breed and what it was bred for, you can see this natural instinct in the play activities they perform. Dog chasing, high prey drive, sniffing, ball chasing, pulling, and tug of war. Think about it and consider an activity or game that can incorporates this natural instincts. If you have dog that loves to pull then why not get them to pull a weight for fun or pull you on a long lead. If your dog plays ball then look up Fly-ball Sports.

If you have a working dog breed i.e Labrador, springer, Collie, German shepherd, Doberman etc look into the sports that are out there for these breeds like Field trials or protection work. -Agility is a great way to get interaction with your dogs and for them to be put to work.

Ultimately play is an important part of your dog’s life as it does in wild dogs and we have to embrace it as it builds our bond with our dogs. Remember though it is all about learning, nurturing and leading our dogs in this play time not them dictating or leading the play.