5 Reasons why you should play with your dog.
There are lots of benefits of deliberately playing with your dog, this important activity should not be overlooked. Don’t just leave your dog with other dog playmates, or buy dog toys and expecting him to make his own fun. Get involved in your dog’s play activities, create fun structured games, build them into training and show your dog that you are a source of enjoyment.
1. It Helps Teach Your Dog Basic Manners
Play and games allow us to teach the dog manners that are important in daily life. For example, the game of tuggy, I teach three important manners: 1) He is not allowed to grab at toys and start tugging without me saying “Get it!”. This teaches impulse control. 2) He is not allowed to put teeth on skin or on clothing, and that if he does the game abruptly ends. This teaches bite inhibition. 3) He must release the toy when asked, my command is “Out” This teaches the dog to give up items in his mouth.
2. It Helps Build Your Relationship With Your Dog
Play is a social activity that allows for bonding between you and your dog. Through playing together and, in the process, observing your dog, you can learn much about your dog’s body signals and how he communicates arousal, enjoyment, stress and other emotions. This helps develop better communication, understanding and trust.
3. It Gives Your Dog a Great Reason to Come When Called
When relying on other dogs to play with your dog, you can expect that every time other friendly dogs are around you’ll more than likely have difficulty calling your dog back to you or even just getting his attention.
With repetition, owners easily become that person who ends the fun, who puts the lead back on, who puts the dog in his crate, and who most of the time is boring. Therefore, when distractions such as other playmates come up you can be sure that your dog will choose the more exciting option, which in most cases is not boring old you. Become an enthusiastic playmate and combine that with training, and your chances for a successful recall will increase hugely.
4. It Provides Mental and Physical Stimulation for Your Dog
Dogs, and especially young and active dogs, need constant physical and mental stimulation as part of their daily routine. And what better way to provide that than through play. Not only can your dog get a great work out while playing tug, retrieve, or chasing games with you, but he will also be exercising his mind while engaging in these activities.
5. It’s an Alternative Reward to Treats
There’s nothing wrong with using treats to train and reward behaviours, but with play as a potential reward, you no longer need to be dependent solely on food treats being available for your dog to eagerly do as he is asked. If your dog knows that obedience will likely be rewarded with a fun session of play, you’ll find that your dog will quickly and happily respond to your commands whether or not you’ve got treats on you. Toy rewards can often speed up a behaviour as they encourage the dog to run, chase or move fast to get the toy.