Benefits For The Dog In Playing Games
Play is a huge part of a dogs' life starting from the puppy and continuing through the dogs adult life.
Puppies are usually with their mother (dam) and littermates until about eight weeks of age. At about three to four weeks of age all the littermates are wanting to start to play with each other. At first the coordination is quite poor amongst the littermates but the natural process of puppies interacting with each other is through play and the mother joining in the play. It is not many weeks before their coordination naturally improves. The puppies are also disciplined during this time by the mother and these are the first steps of how puppies learn how to play and behave.
Once the puppy becomes of the age to go to its new home it is imperative that the owner continues the role of the mother dog by teaching the puppy rules and boundaries when playing in a calm, friendly and fun way.
Play is of great importance for several reasons. If a dog is on a good diet and has the opportunity to have controlled, fun Play it is usually an all round healthier dog. Dog owners that play controlled fun games will help the dogs development. It provides a great form of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Dogs that don't receive adequate exercise and stimulation can become over weight and will become bored.
Bored dogs can develop unwanted behaviours such as destructive behaviour, over boisterousness, digging and barking. Playing can also improve the dogs coordination, movement, social skills and can encourage the use of the dogs natural senses. Not forgetting the strong bond that will be strengthened between the owner and dog.
Training time for your dog is a form of controlled play as the dog will enjoy spending quality time with you learning and wanting to please. If done correctly owners can combine play with training as you can combine various commands i.e. sit, down and stays etc when playing. Training and play needs to be a positive experience for dogs with owners being enthusiastic and positive.
You can teach dogs how to play new games using the same methods as training. (reward based or clicker) A lot of constructive games that you can play can use some of the dogs natural behaviours such as hunting, chasing and retrieving. Also the dogs five senses will automatically strengthen through constructive play, which will mentally stimulate and satisfy your dogs needs whilst having fun. Practical games can be retrieve on land or water, agility, scent games, fetch, hide and seek, playing with other dogs and you can also teach your dog tricks i.e. bow, wave, give paw, roll over and put the toys away. There are many interactive games you can buy for your dog that stimulates the brain and alleviates boredom i.e Nina Ottosson puzzle games, activity balls, zig A zag ball, Kong's and canvas dog dummies. Other toys that can be useful in play are chuck it, ball on a rope, some squeaky toys but your dog should not be left unattended with the last toy mentioned as they can come apart and your dog can choke. You can use paddling pools and sandpits to your advantage as well.
If owners can find the time to stimulate their dog they will find owning a dog much more rewarding and pleasurable than those who don't find the time.