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How to play with a dog? [COAPE Behaviorist Ewa Jaworska

How to play with a dog? What a trivial question! Probably everyone knows how to play with a dog to make it happy! But are you sure?

How to play with a dog?
  • Fun is essential
  • Why the dog needs fun?
  • Physical and intellectual fun
  • Adapt the play to the dog
  • Fun for the puppy
  • Stimulating and calming games
  • Each stick has two ends
    • Tracking, nosework and agility
    • Toy from the series "do it yourself "
  • Can every dog ​​play?

Fun is essential

Having fun is essential ?

let's start from the beginning.

Play is the most natural thing in the world for our pet. But interestingly there is a time at the age of a dog when play is absolutely essential and super important.

This time is the puppy age!

Dogs have their own needs - the so-called "flexible " and "inflexible ".

Inflexible needs are the absolute basis, that is:

  • food,
  • dream,
  • care,
  • sense of security,
  • and in the case of puppies, also fun!

At a later stage of development, play becomes a flexible need, i.e. the dog can do without it, but this does not mean, of course, that it should.

Why the dog needs fun?

Why the dog needs fun?

With puppies, play is of great value. When they are small, it is a time of intensive development and learning for them.

By playing with their mother or the rest of the litter and other dogs they meet later on their way, they collect a lot of important information about the world. They learn that biting buddies on the paws or pulling the ears is not fun and the other dog can get angry and literally and figuratively "bite off". In addition, our dogs learn their strength.

In addition, thanks to play, children develop their motor skills and physical fitness. They also have contact with other dogs, and dogs as pack animals need it very much.
For them, play is a really important element of life, which should not be underestimated.

Later, as a puppy grows up, his needs change, but the desire to play stays with him for life.

Physical and intellectual fun

Physical and intellectual fun

A common mistake in thinking is to assume that all you need to do is run your dog out to be happy. This is not entirely true.

In this case it is a bit like with people. The dog has a body, but it also has a mind that requires stimulation. We also like to get tired physically, but we will probably also like to read a book, watch a cool series or solve a puzzle.

Dogs don't have access to books, but they have something just as cool

that is your nose!

The olfactory games are excellent mental stimulation and entertainment for the dog. Therefore, try to play with your dog this way as well.

The fun and simple games include:

  • olfactory mats,
  • hiding strong-smelling flavors in boxes and making holes in them so that the dog can smell them and try to extract them,
  • hiding delicious delicacies in the lair or pooch blanket,
  • scattering treats in the grass for the dog to find for himself,
  • interactive toys for dogs.

You will see that your dog will be delighted that he can use his sense of smell and will still receive a reward. Such intellectual stimulation will tire the dog much more than running around the stick.

Adapt the play to the dog

There are very few dogs that don't like to play. But there are times when dogs don't want to play because it's not suited to them. So let's first think about the fun we will give our dog the greatest pleasure.

If we have a greyhound, it is very possible that he will like chasing an artificial animal (so-called coursing), or sprinting on the beach.

However, if we have a senior dog with joint problems, do not expect him to be delighted with the races, so let's look for a more stationary activity for him. Here, olfactory games or dog puzzles work great, because they stimulate the dog's brain, thanks to which it ages more slowly.

Fun for the puppy

Fun for the puppy

In the case of puppies it is a little easier because the puppy is one great walking pastime, so almost any activity will be fascinating for him.

But here it is also worth acting wisely.

The puppy is just learning the world, so each new stimulus should be positive and pleasant, so let's not expose the toddler to too strong emotions and excessive madness, so that he does not get scared.

At this stage, it is also worth avoiding excessive jerking with jerks or toys, because babies have soft gums and delicate teeth and we may accidentally hurt them.

We should also make sure that the games are varied.

The puppy is still developing his mind and will be happy to learn new things, but also do not throw him over dozens of different attractions, because he will get lost. His concentration is short, and socialization and learning new things should be carried out in a controlled manner and we should not overdo it, moderation is key here.

If, on the other hand, you have a fearful dog, look for calm and gentle games for him, and if you play with him with a jerk, give him a win every now and then, it will increase his self-confidence, the dog will be glad that he managed to beat his strong and big caregiver ?

Stimulating and calming games

Stimulating and calming games

Another issue that is little talked about is the effect of play on a dog's behavior and emotions.

We can roughly divide the games into two types, i.e. stimulating games, during which the dog gets excited, has more adrenaline in the body and calms down longer. On the other extreme, there are calming games that lower the dog's emotions, relax him and trigger endorphins (i.e. the happiness hormone) in his body.

The stimulating games for the dog include, among others:

  • all chasing after balls, sticks or frisbee,
  • jerking off with a jerk,
  • jogging with the dog,
  • running by bike,
  • playing with other dogs.

The activities that relax the dog include:

  • all kinds of olfactory games,
  • interactive toys for dogs,
  • chewing objects and treats,
  • biting, for example, toys like "chewies ",
  • licking goodies, congon pate,

Here, too, it is worth considering what kind of play would be best suited to our pooch.

For example, if we have a young dog that has problems with controlling emotions and gets turned on very quickly, it is better to offer him a calming game that will lower his emotions and allow him to calm down.

If our dog has a problem with focus, we can also give him a task that requires focus, for example a canine puzzle, to practice concentration and focusing on one activity at a time.

If, on the other hand, our pooch has low energy, he does not want to exercise with us and it is not due to a health problem, but his disposition, then it is worth to start him up a bit so that it is easier to exercise with him later. So in this case, stimulating play makes more sense.

Each stick has two ends

Since we already know all this, it is also worth mentioning a certain paradox here.

Often, dog handlers throw a stick at their dogs for hours, and dogs run after them like crazy. And then they rain.

The caregivers are happy that the pooch was running out, while he is physically exhausted, but he still has a hurricane in his head, because his adrenaline is raised from constant running.

Some dogs will run until they are out of breath, which is not healthy because they become fixated on the object and no longer see the world beyond it. In such a situation, this behavior should not be reinforced, but the toy should be temporarily withdrawn and replaced with something else.

So sometimes it's good to shorten your run after the ball and give your dog some nice teether on the grass, or make a path of treats for him so that he can lower his energy and calm down before returning home.

Tracking, nosework and agility


Not every dog ​​needs to become an athlete, but there are fun activities that can be fun for your dog as well.

Any dog ​​can try to track, from a hunting dog to a baby Maltese! After all, each of them has a toe and it is enough to adjust the degree of difficulty to a given dog. Fun and joy for the dog and guardian is huge, I guarantee ?

Every pooch, including the senior dog, can also have a great time in the currently fashionable "rhinoceros " classes, i.e. tasks that involve the dog's sense of smell. I also recommend it as a great adventure, which will additionally strengthen the bond between the dog and the guardian.

If, on the other hand, you want to work with your dog so that he focuses his attention on you, but also fools around and overcomes various obstacles and tunnels, think about training with him "agility ", it is also an interesting option.

If you do not have unbridled sports ambitions and do not care about medals, but have fun, then do not take all these activities very seriously, they can only be a starting point, and then you will train yourself, what brings you the greatest joy.

Toy from the series "do it yourself "

The times when you could only buy cool toys in pet stores, or you had to bring a stuffed toy from your younger sister so that the pooch had something to play with, are over.

Now we can make a toy for a dog with our own hands.

Not only will the dog be happy, we will also have a great time. Just look for inspiration on the Internet, and there are thousands of them. The toy can be made of the simplest things - from a roll of kitchen towels, home-made fleece or egg casing. In fact, we are only limited by our imagination, because usually no greater manual skills are needed, even kids are able to make cool toys for their pets.

Can every dog ​​play?

Can every dog ​​play?

A strange question again, but you may find that not every dog!

There may be various reasons for this.

For example, a dog in childhood did not have properly conducted socialization, or it is a half wild puppy and has never played, so it does not know what it is eating with. But that doesn't mean we can't teach him!

Sometimes a good trainer will come in handy, but usually we can quickly find some fun that will make our dog happy.

However, if we see that the dog had a great time before, but now suddenly does not feel like it, it is worth taking a closer look. Maybe something has changed in his life, he is suddenly under stress and unable to think about having fun?

Or he is in pain and he doesn't want to play? Or, he may be in a depressed mood and no longer enjoy having fun. In such abnormal situations, it's always a good idea to contact a good behaviorist or veterinarian.

Finally, I wish you all great fun with your dogs!

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