Dogs began to live with humans as companions thousands of years ago. Over time, the grey wolves of Eurasia began to realize there were benefits to not biting people all the time.
Fast forward 20,000 years and now we have tailor-made pug costumes. Even if you don’t take it that far, leisure activities are a part of every dog’s life.
It’s not just they deserve all the good things in life for being. Playtime is crucial to a puppy’s wellbeing. Read ahead to learn why they need it as part of their daily routine.
All Work and No Play
If you are reading this article, it is likely that you are a ‘dog person’. So we probably don’t have to explain why dogs aren’t ‘just dogs’.
You might not be the type that treats their pets like little babies. But you’ll want to take some time and effort into keeping them happy.
Playing with them is one of the most surefire ways to do this.
The Importance of Play
We aren’t talking about some new age bologna. There are real, tangible benefits to playing with your dog.
When you bring home a new puppy checklist, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to give them the best life you can. Otherwise, you are probably better off with a less needy pet.
But if you want a Saint Bernard, for example, the requirements are different than that of a chihuahua.
- Physical Health
We all know about the health benefits of exercise. Cardio and strength training improves cardiovascular health and joint health.
The same effects occur in dogs. They can suffer weight problems, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases.
Dogs can’t sign up for gym club memberships so it’s up to you to make sure they work out. Ensure they get ample playtime goes along to keep them healthy.
- Mental Wellbeing
Sometimes, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get up and be active. But you know that feeling when the endorphins hit is always worth the effort.
Playtime has a similar effect on dogs. It staves off anxiety and stress.
Remember that dogs can suffer from depression. It’s inhumane to deny them playtime.
- Social Adaptation
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Playtime is always best with a friend or two.
This is a great opportunity for your dog to learn how to play with others. It helps them be more social creatures.
Let’s say we take a grown dog that has never had playtime and bring them to a popular dog park. They would lack the social skills to know what to do. This could lead to aggression and other undesirable behaviors.
- Cognitive Skills
Dogs are very intelligent animals. When you see them chasing their own tail and barking at squirrels, this might seem hard to believe.
But did you know that dogs are capable of learning and remembering several hundred words?
One of the best ways to get their brain juices flowing is through play. Games that require them to solve problems and puzzles are best for this.
- Happy Dog, Happy Life
Your furry friends aren’t the only ones who benefit from the extra TLC. There are few hobbies that can provide you with more returns than playing with dogs.
If you have a pet dog, you will likely be more active than if you didn’t.
There are cardiovascular and psychological benefits for owners, too.
- Professional Skills
Dogs might not pay rent. But many of them have jobs.
Dogs can work as therapists, first responders, security guards, models, actors, and just about anything else. Since they can’t read instruction manuals, they have to learn from ‘role play’.
For example, teaching your dog to find a treasure is lots of fun. Plus, it serves as great practice if they happen to work with hunters or search-and-rescue teams.
How to Play With Your Dog
Now that we know about the benefits, let’s talk about how to play with your dog.
Here are some of the most popular games that the experts recommend for your dog.
This might be the first doggy game that comes to mind.
Once your dog learns how to fetch, it is probably one of the easiest games you could play. All you have to do is through a ball or other object and wait for the dog to go fetch.
Most dogs are really good at chasing down the ball. It’s the whole ‘bringing it back’ that requires more positive reinforcement.
If your dog can sit, stay, and come on command, you’ll be able to play hide-and-seek.
First, have your dog sit where you want it to wait for you to hide. Then tell it to ‘stay’ while you go find a spot.
When you are ready, tell your dog to ‘come’. Naturally, dogs are very, very good at this game thanks to their keen sense of smell.
- Get The Treat
These types of games are perfect for getting your dog to be more of the thinking type.
Some of the best dog toys are the ones that make them solve a puzzle. You can make DIY dog toys for this purpose.
Just make sure there is a nice treat waiting at the end.
Making Time for Puppy Playtime
Are you planning on introducing a canine into your home? This is something you have to think long and hard about first.
Do your research. The specific requirements vary among different dogs. However, they all need love, affection, and playtime.
If you are willing and able to provide this for about 10 years (or more), you’re ready to embark (no pun intended). Check out our blog for more articles about pets and animals.