When you are a dog owner, one of the biggest responsibilities you have to take on is making sure that your dog is mentally and physically stimulated. One of the best ways of making sure of that is by playing with your dog. But, because your dog isn’t a human child, it might be a bit difficult to find the best way for you to play with it. So, how do you play with your dog?
The best way for you to play with your dog is by knowing dog-friendly games that are safe for both you and your furry pal. Outdoor activities such as catch, fetch, and chase are some of the best ways for you to play with your dog. But you can also use dog-friendly toys.
While it might seem like playing with your dog is a matter of just taking it outside and throwing stuff around hoping it will play, it might not always go as easy as planned depending on the breed of your dog and how it was raised. That’s why it is important that you get to know more about how to play with your dog.
How do you play with your dog?
Plenty of dog owners just look at playtime with their dogs as just a fun part of living together with a pet in the house. But the truth is that playing with your dog is actually one of the most essential parts of being a dog owner. The reason for that is because of how you have to make sure that your dog is mentally and physically stimulated at all times or else it might develop habits that are less-than-ideal or it might turn out to be mentally and physically unhealthy in the long run.
But playing with the dog may end up to be a challenging task for some owners who are not aware of the proper ways to play with their canine pals. That’s why plenty of these owners tend to end up frustrated and confused as to why their dogs act in a way that may be less than ideal for most pet lovers. So, in that regard, there is a need for you to understand the proper way of playing with a dog.
Basic rules of play time
- When you want to play with your dog, here are some of the useful rules you should follow to make things safer and more fruitful for both you and your dog:
- Make sure that your dog is well-trained and that you don’t need to use force to take things away from it. The “leave” command should be quite useful in this situation.
- Try to make sure that whatever toys you are using are kept under your waste so that you won’t have to encourage your dog to jump quite so often whenever you are playing.
- Minimize games that require you to be rough with your dog. This includes wrestling with it or doing anything similar. The reason is this will minimize developing a rough type of personality in your dog.
- Play time should be frequent yet short. You don’t have to spend hours playing with your dog because a few minutes a day can already be more than enough to stimulate it. However, make sure you do it frequently such as every day or every other day. Finish play time when your dog is still at its peak so that you will keep it excited for the next session.
- Show enthusiasm in your tone so that your dog will be just as excited and as happy as you are. Dogs can sense emotions, and anything that doesn’t show excitement or enthusiasm on your part can be reflected in your dog’s personality especially if it senses that you are not happy with play time.
- Don’t spoil the dog when it wants to play. There are plenty of dogs that are keen to play but make sure to only give what it wants whenever it is doing something that you also like it doing such as when it is sitting or lying down quietly. Doing so will encourage your dog to behave whenever it wants to play with you.
- On the flip side, never force your dog to try to play with you especially when you notice that it isn’t keen on playing. This might make it hate play time.
- Always clean up after every play time. Keep the toys away and make sure that everything is back in order so that your dog will understand that play time is over.
Getting to know your dog
First off, it should be important for you to know your dog’s personality so that it would be easier for you to understand what games they love playing. There are some dog breeds that are a bit more docile and lazier than other canine pals when it comes to playtime while some have energy levels that seem to be so boundless. For example, most bulldogs shouldn’t be expected to be too playful while a breed such as the golden retriever never seems to run out of energy. As such, it is important for you to get to know your dog first so that you can gauge the type of games they may want to play.
Probably the best way for you to approach this is by researching your dog’s breed so that it would be easier for you to understand the general personality that your furry pal carries. If you have a really young puppy or if you are still planning on buying a puppy, researching the dog’s breed and getting to know the breeder and the parents of the pup can also be good ideas for you to do.
For those who adopted their dogs as adults, it might be best to get to know the dog first as it is adjusting to its new home. Try to see what kind of activities it likes doing and what it usually does whenever you leave it alone. You can take it outside the house and observe what it’s doing for you to get a better picture of its personality and habits.
As long as you first get to know more about your dog before forcing it to do activities it might not enjoy, you are on your way to making sure that you get to enjoy playtime with your canine buddy the right way.
Indoors or outdoors?
So, after getting to know your dog, it is time for you to think of what kind of activities you might want to do with your dog. There are plenty of different indoor and outdoor games you can play with old Fido but it is up to you in deciding which among those activities best suit your dog and your current setup in your home.
For those living in apartment buildings that don’t have a lot of space, it is easy to say that outdoor games are probably better for you especially if you have a big dog that requires plenty of room to move around. You can go outside to a common area outdoors to play with your friendly dog or you can go to a nearby park to maximize the space needed to play with your canine pal. But if you have a small dog and there are no nearby common areas or parks outdoors, then it might be better for you to choose indoor games instead.
And even if you do live in a spacious house with the capacity to carry out indoor and outdoor games, you might still want to decide on choosing either indoor or outdoor activities depending on the type of dog you want. There are some dogs that are more enthusiastic about outdoor games than indoor activities. Meanwhile, there are also breeds that are probably best indoors due to their innate personalities or probably because of how you value their safety.
So, before playing with your dog, first try to assess which indoor and outdoor games best fit your lifestyle, your setup, and your dog. Doing so will make things smoother and simpler on your part as you can easily cut the list of games short.
Know how important toys really are
When it comes to playtime, it doesn’t usually have to deal with games that involve you and your dog’s respective limbs. Yes, you don’t always have to run around the yard playing chase with your furry friend or try to wrestle with it from time to time. There are instances where you can already have a great time with your dog and allow it to play and enjoy itself by using toys.
Toys are really important when it comes to playtime because they make things easier on your part. If you want to play catch or fetch with your dog, use a toy and simply allow your friend to chase the toy after throwing it. Plenty of toys are made for fetching and catching and are also durable enough to withstand rough play on the part of even the largest dog breeds imaginable.
Another thing that makes toys as great as they are is that you can actually just leave them with your dog and your friend will play with them. A great chew toy will leave your canine pal chewing for hours without you even trying to do something on your part to stimulate your dog. Even doggie puzzles do your part in stimulating your dog’s mental and physical capabilities without much effort on your part as well.
And speaking of toys…
How to play with your dog without toys
While many people might think that the best way to play with dogs is by using props and toys, there are also a lot of ways you can use to have fun with your canine pal without the use of toys. Here are some of the more effective ways you can do it:
Yes, that’s right. Even something as simple as walking with your dog in the park or around the neighborhood can be enough for you to stimulate it in a way that is similar to playtime. You don’t always have to actually play with the dog for you to have fun because some dog breeds are already having fun as long as you are allowing it to walk around outdoors as it explores the environment around it. Just make sure you train your dog to walk with a leash on for safety reasons.
Chase is the ultimate game to play with your dog without the use of toys. In fact, you don’t even need to use a leash for this as long as you have enough outdoor space to run around and play with your dog. All you have to do is to run and allow your dog to chase you. This makes for an effective way for you to burn a few calories while providing some fun exercise for your dog.
In some cases, you may want to first train your dog to follow you on command so that it will actually chase after you when you are running. Some dogs might start chasing while others won’t especially if they are not trained to do so. Meanwhile, some dogs are naturally wired to chase after you regardless of whether or not they were trained.
- Hide and seek
Hide and seek can be a somewhat complex game that requires you to train your dog to do simple commands such as stay and go. The reason is that you need your dog to stay in one place on command while you are hiding. After that, release the dog with another command for it to start seeking.
The game of hide and seek is a great way to exercise your dog’s mind and body while also teaching it how to use its senses more. Your dog will start to use its keen senses of hearing and smelling the moment you use your release command on it. And when your dog finds you, make sure that you give your furry friend a treat so that it will be encouraged to play the same game later on.
While we did say that wrestling isn’t the most recommended game that you should play with your dog if you are not using toys, it still is nonetheless an effective way to have fun with your canine pal. As long as you are doing this activity responsibly, you don’t have to worry too much about how it will affect your dog in a negative way.
When you are wrestling with your dog, try to minimize the rough play a bit and make sure that you are teaching your dog when the right time to wrestle is and who it should be able to wrestle with. Otherwise, you might end up with an overly excited dog that will try to wrestle with anyone at any time. This can be dangerous to strangers and children.
How can I play with my dog inside?
Not all games played with your dog should be kept outdoors because there are plenty of games you can actually play while you are indoors. This is important to know because you can never tell when there is a need for you to stay indoors such as when a pandemic strikes or when the weather outside is too rough. In some cases, there are people who live in places that don’t have a lot of outdoor space.
As such, here are some of the ways you can play with your dog indoors:
- Hidden treasure
The sense of smell of dogs is so remarkable that it is up to 45 times more effective than that of our own. That means that they can easily sniff things out regardless of how faint the smell may be to our own noses. So, if you want to play indoors with your dog, you can use its strong sense of smell to your advantage. One of the ways you can do so is by allowing it to play the hidden treasure game.
When you are playing hidden treasure with your dog, what you need to do is to make use of boxes or cups and hide a treat or a “hidden treasure” under one of them. Try shuffling the boxes or cups and let your dog smell them after doing so. Allow old Fido to use his sense of smell to locate the hidden treasure underneath the cups.
- Hide and seek with treats
If you are already aware of how to play hide and seek with your dog, you can change things up a bit by adding a treat into the equation instead of you hiding. In this case, you might want to teach your dog the “seek” command wherein it will try to look for something you want it to find. One of the best ways to do this is by pairing the seek command with the stay and go command.
So, if your dog is already well-trained, use a treat and allow it to sniff it without giving it to your canine friend. After asking your dog to sniff the treat, tell it to stay while you go and hide the treat somewhere. Release the dog on command and ask it to seek for the treat you just hid earlier.
- Obstacle course
An all-time classic, the obstacle course is a fun way for you and your dog to enjoy the indoors especially when you cannot do your own obstacle course outdoors. However, please make sure that you have enough room in your house or that you have already doggy-proofed your home so that there won’t be anything that would harm your dog or break when you and your furry pal get too excited.
Making an obstacle course can be done with usual household things such as your coach, some pillows, or even tables and chairs. What you need to do is to make a course that your dog has to go through to get to you. This allows your canine friend to exercise its mind and body as it will find the most optimum way to get to you or a treat.
In some cases, bigger dogs will try to plow through the obstacle course. While that may be funny, your job is to discourage that behavior and to encourage it to complete the obstacle course instead of forcing its way through it.
Is it okay to play fight with your dog?
Generally speaking, it can be okay to play fight with your dog such as when you are wrestling or playing tug of war. These games are classic activities you can do with your dog during playtime but they may require a bit more care and attention on your part because of how they can promote aggressiveness in your dog. But if you are careful and when you make sure that your dog has its limits, you don’t have to worry about building up your dog’s aggressive nature.
When you are playing wrestling, the important part is to make sure your dog knows its limits such as when it can play that game or with who it can play wrestling. And when you are playing tug of war, the important part is to stop playing the moment your dog’s teeth touch your skin so that it will understand the limits of what it can do while playing the game.
Examples of good games to play with your dog
If you are looking for the best game to play with your dog, here are some good examples:
The old classic fetch is an example of how well you can train your dog’s ability to follow commands while it exercises its body and senses. Basically, the premise here is to throw something that your dog will chase and then give back to you. It really is simple but you have to make sure that the dog is playful enough to try to chase after that object and is obedient enough to bring it back to you. Proper training will help make this game easier for you and your dog.
- Tug of war
Tug of war is another classic game wherein your dog will be forced to exercise its jaw muscles while also stimulating its body as it tries to pull away from an object from you. When playing this game, make sure to use a strong toy such as a rope toy. And while it might seem like the game doesn’t need training, you still have to make sure to train your dog to know when to take the object from you and when to release it to make sure that the game goes as smoothly as possible.
- Searching games
Searching games are excellent ways for you to exercise your dog’s senses while also making it take up a lot of its time without you doing a lot while it is searching for the objects you hid. When playing this game, the secret is to train your dog to try to find something you want it to find by allowing it to sniff it and then later on commanding it to find the object after you hid it from your dog. After hiding it, you can just sit back and relax while waiting for your furry pal to find that object.
Believe it or not, basic obedience training can also be considered a game because of how you and your dog are bonding on a mental and physical level. Basic obedience training takes a lot out of your dog especially when you are still just starting out the training. But, at the same time, as long as you are approaching the training with enough enthusiasm and excitement, your dog will also have a lot of fun the entire time.
- Pounce and shake
The pounce and shake game involves using a squeaky toy that you have to squeak so that the dog will be enticed to try to stop the squeaking. Simply toss the toy into the air and wait for your dog to retrieve it by catching it or pouncing on it. As soon as your dog has the toy, it will try to stop the squeaking by shaking it. Retrieve the toy and repeat the process.