Playing is an important aspect of a dog’s life. Playing alone, playing with their owner, or playing with other dogs truly stimulates and enriches their life. However, it is sometimes difficult to know which types of games are best for your dog, how to keep things interesting, and what you should avoid when playing with your dog. In this article, we will explain the advantages of playing with dogs and the types of games that you should play with them.
The importance of playing games with your dog
Playing with your dog is beneficial for their development, growth, and well-being.
Dogs need to exercise daily. While daily walks certainly allow dogs to exercise, playing games allows them to exercise both their mind and their body. Playing will tire your dog out in a good way, much more than a simple walk would.
Learning and having fun at the same time! Playing with your dog brings them happiness, all while giving you the opportunity to train your dog at the same time. On the one hand, games can be used as a reward when you are congratulating your dog for listening to your commands or for behaving well. On the other hand, games allow you to observe your dog’s behavior and reinforce their training if necessary.
Physical, intellectual, sensorial, and social stimulation—different games can help keep your dog stimulated. Don’t forget that dogs need to be physically and mentally stimulated to avoid getting bored.
Other than the fun aspect, games allow your dog to progress, to get past their fears and traumas, and above all, have trust in themselves and others. It’s truly a type of therapy for dogs.
When dogs play with their owners, other people, or other dogs, it allows them to socialize more. These social interactions are vital for your dog because it stimulates them and helps them adapt their behavior with others.
In addition, playing with your dog allows you to establish a real bond with them. In time, you will develop a close relationship with your dog, with strong bonds and mutual trust.
Different types of games for dogs
In this section, we will present to you the principal activities that dogs can partake in. Depending on the dog breed, and especially on their behavior, it is possible that some games are not well-adapted or not very stimulating. Do not hesitate to test the most amount of games possible to determine which games match your dog the best, or ask for tips from a dog training professional.
Games that can be played alone
Playing with your dog also means choosing the right toys that they can use to play alone. You have a role to play because you will be the one presenting the toys to them and helping them enjoy their new toys. You have the difficult task of choosing the right toys for your dog!
Hard chew toys, soft toys, stuffed animals, fun toys, stimulating toys—all of these toys are important and all dogs should have several of them. This will help keep your dog from getting bored. Your dog will be able to play and keep themselves busy during your absence.
As we do not know the particular taste that your dog has in toys, we can only suggest choosing toys that are good quality, adapted to their usage, and the right size for your dog. Beware of choking or swallowing small pieces.
Playing fetch with dogs is a popular activity. With a simple stick, a ball, a frisbee, or a rope to chew on, playing fetch makes your dog run and listen to your commands. Your dog only needs to know two commands: “fetch” or “bring it” and “drop it”. With some time, their obedience and love towards you might even push them to automatically bring the object back to you, who knows?
A dog’s love for fetch depends on their personality and taste in games. Be observant of your dog’s needs and do not push your dog past their limits. Also, be careful with the objects that your dog brings back, especially sticks. Choose a smooth object without splinters or spikes.
Sniffing is an important sense for dogs. Searching games allows them to focus their concentration on that task. This mental and olfactive stimulation allows your cat to use their brain and learn.
You can hide a treat, an object, and let your dog try to find it! First, show your dog the object or treat that they have to find and the place where you put it. Later, you can start hiding the object or treat without showing your dog where you hide it to complicate the task.
You can play hide-and-seek with your dog inside or outside! It may seem strange, but putting yourself out of sight and letting your dog find you by scent alone is a really stimulating activity for your dog! Remember, these animals are great trackers and love to use their sense of smell.
A type of strength game, tug-of-war involves holding on to an object (e.g. a ball with a knot, ropes specifically designed for pulling, or a rubber ring) that your dog can bite and try to pull towards themselves. You can start the game by saying something like “get it” and finish by saying “drop it”, before starting the game all over again.
The most important thing is that you have to always stay in control of the game. Your dog’s temperament might push your dog to try to win against you instead of playing with you—and that’s problematic. If your dog becomes too aggressive, uncontrollable or too agitated, stop the game immediately. It is important to not reinforce this type of behavior. If this happens, you can ask for advice from a dog trainer, who would be able to analyze your dog’s behavior and let you know how you can help your dog or play other types of games with them.
While this type of game doesn’t necessarily sound fun , dogs love learning. Obedience games involves teaching your dog basic commands, small tests or turning. Isn’t it fascinating when a dog is able to sit or lie down when they are told to?
Training your dog can be fun, and the rewards that you give to your dog are just as gratifying as the activity itself. Agility, for example, falls under this category. Your dog would be so proud to contribute to your happiness!
Important tips for playing with your dog well
Here are a few general tips to help you spend great moments with your dog when playing with them.
It takes time and patience to learn how to play with a dog well. Establish healthy habits with your fur baby and help them stay in shape. Your dog should be calm when you start playing, know how to listen to your commands, stop when you end a game, etc.
It is important to congratulate and encourage your dog when they behave well. This will benefit your dog and the relationship between the both of you.
Prioritize short but frequent sessions (ideally every day), rather than long sessions. See this as an important practice for your dog’s mental and physical well-being. The games should be played regularly for your dog’s development and growth.
Listen to your dog and respect their nature. Adapt the games to their age, physical condition, and their health. The breed that your dog is also influences the types of activities that your dog prefers or excels at.
Take into account the temperament of your dog. Some games might encourage inappropriate behaviors. You will need to avoid them or play them differently. It is important to find games that match your dog well.