The importance of playing with your dog

Posted by Betty. February 19th 2014.

Anybody who makes physical exercise part of their daily routine will say that the benefits are not solely improved fitness. A balanced mind, stress relief and simply having fun are all advantages of physical exercise and this is not unique to humans. Dogs, like people, enjoy the release that exercise brings – whether from running in the park, chasing a ball or going for a daily walk.

Dogs also need to interact with their owners and this is something which exercise provides the perfect opportunity for them to do. Playing with your dog is an important part of their development and can help build a trusting and loving relationship between you both; regardless of age.

girl and dog

Why playing is important

Engaging in play with a pet dog is important for the animal’s physical health as it keeps joints in shape and exercises coordination. Their mental health benefits as well. Dogs generally respond well to any kind of training and play keeps their minds sharp.

Playing can enhance the social skills of a dog which comes in useful when it encounters other canines in the park. Of course, standard training is important for keeping a dog under control too but playing games will develop a dog’s social skills with its peers and other owners.

One advantage to playing with a dog is how it develops bonding between the pet and its owner and the physical health of the latter can’t be overlooked either. There are many ways of keeping fit and releasing stress; playing with a dog can get very active so is also ideal for the owner’s fitness and balanced mind.

Playing the right way

There are some key points to remember when learning how to play with your dog though.

Firstly, it is important that a pet owner remembers to establish that they are the pack leader in any activity. It is up to them to decide which games to play and how long they will last. A dog needs authority and does not enjoy the confusion of not knowing who is boss. Keeping in control can prevent a dog from becoming overexcited while playing. If a dog does start to get out of control, its owner simply needs to stop the activity until the animal calms down.

Rewarding a dog is important when playing too. If a pet does well, rewards such as cuddles, strokes or a treat will always go down well. When teaching a dog games, it is best for it to learn one fully before moving onto a new one as it could get confused otherwise.

Dog with frisbee

Play tips

Avoiding games that involve aggressive moves like biting and tugging is important as this may develop or encourage aggression in the dog – especially in particular breeds such as German Shepherds.

It is also vital that an owner’s body part or clothing is not incorporated into any game play as the pet may lose control at any time and cause harm.

For extra practice, it’s a good idea to mix training commands into game play making the experience beneficial for dog and owner.

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