Playing is an important part of any relationship. It enhances the bond between two people, and improves their communication. The same thing happens when when people play with their dogs.
As with any game, there are rules that must be followed when you start to play games with your dog. To avoid any confusion, and to keep you both safe, make sure these rules are clear to your dog right from the get go.
Firstly, it’s up to you when to start and finish a game. This teaches your dog that there really isn’t any point in constantly dropping a ball at your feet, or to continue to tug at you when you’ve had enough. It means that your dog won’t annoy you when it’s not playtime.
Let’s look at some games you shouldn’t teach your dog to play. Avoid snatching games, where you both try to be the first to get to a toy. This teaches a dog to be overly possessive, and they may become defensive if you try and take their toy away. Not safe.
Don’t play chase with your dog, where you have to chase him. This will train him to run from you, and can cause problems if you’re trying to catch him. Imagine spending hours at the dog park because you can’t catch your dog to bring him home. Even worse, imagine your dog running away from you and inadvertently running in front of a car. It’s more important to teach your dog to come when called, than it is to play any chasing type game.
There are games that you both will enjoy playing. Fetch is the game that’s most familiar to us. For those of us who don’t like to run around, it will give your dog exercise while you sit back and relax. Be mindful that dogs often don’t know when to stop, and will chase a ball until they are exhausted. They will need you to tell them when they’ve had enough.
Also, don’t throw balls high into the air. Your dog may land awkwardly and hurt his leg. Don’t throw anything other than a soft ball, because dogs have sustained mouth injuries when they catch hard objects.
Many people will tell you that it’s not a good idea to play tug of war games with your dog. It teaches them to be dominant, it makes them aggressive, and it’s just not safe. None of that is true. If you watch dogs play together, they often play tug of war with a stick, so it’s a normal way for dogs to play. Some of the best dog trainers will use a game of tug of war as a reward for a good effort.
You must follow a few guidelines when playing tug of war with dogs. Firstly, the golden rule applies – you must choose to start to play, and also choose when to end the game. Also, don’t play this game with a dog that’s very possessive of its toys. It will make it worse, and he may become aggressive if he thinks you’re trying to take his favorite plaything. Similarly, don’t play this game with any dog that has a tendency to be aggressive.
Playing games with your dog can be fun,and helps build a good rapport between you. Play with him often and you’ll be the best of friends.