What is the best way to play with your dog? A Comprehensive Guide

Use your voice and stance – Squeals and whining emanate the sound of a squeaky toy or a wounded animal, igniting within your dog the urge to attack. Always keep a deep tone of voice and recommend that children and all family members attempt to do the same. When giving commands, tell your dog what you expect; don’t just make requests. Stand tall and look down on your dog to demand respect. If your dog attempts to take something from you, don’t snatch it from them and hold it over your head. This creates a challenge that they are bound to accept, resulting in a jumping, snapping dog. Instead, hold the item close to you, move towards your dog and make eye contact. Say ‘no’ with a deep, matter-of-fact tone.

Avoid over-stimulation and competition – You may say that the whole point of a game is to compete, which may be true in the human world, but will only cause problems with your pet. For instance, dangling a toy above your dog’s head and teasing them may seem like good clean fun; but when they are pulling the tablecloth off of the table or snatching Teddy from your child’s tearful grip, it’s no longer fun. In fact, it could be downright dangerous.

You make the rules – You determine which games to play. You decide when you will play. Never allow your dog to bark or thrust toys at you. Incorporate commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “fetch” into your games. The reward for good behavior is the opportunity to play the game.

Do not use your body as a toy – Don’t wrestle with your dog or drop to your hands and knees and act like a dog. These types of games lower your standing from leader to equal and may affect obedience training. Additionally, these games encourage both barking and biting – characteristics that you should discourage. Toys that are acceptable include chew toys and interactive toys. Chew toys, such as that rubber hamburger, will redirect your dog’s biting instincts from your shoes to a more appropriate outlet. Interactive toys such as balls or tug toys are those that they play with you. While your dog may keep their chew toys, you should always be in control of the interactive toys. Do not let interactive toys turn into chew toys.

An important – and often forgotten – part of training is the role of games within the boundaries of your relationship with your pet.

Pounce and shake games are often played independently of the owner. The dog throws the toy in the air then catches or pounces on it. The dog will often shake the toy until the squeak is removed so the games must be supervised. Squeaky toys can be used to get your dog’s attention and you can throw them for your dog.

With your dog next to you, offer the toy and let your dog pick it up. (Some dogs are more likely to grab the toy if it is rolled along the floor.) Either way praise your dog for holding the toy and only give a food treat if your dog drops it at your feet or in your hand.

Some people avoid playing tug of war because they worry that it will encourage the dog to be controlling and aggressive. Most dogs find tug of war games very exciting and if this is your dog’s favourite game he or she will find ways to play that may be out of your control, for instance grabbing clothing or stealing tea towels. But if you instigate the games you will be able to set the rules.

Progress to running backwards as your dog picks up the toy so that your dog has to follow you to get a treat. When your dog is enjoying bringing back the toy you can add some control by occasionally throwing the toy, but waiting until it has come to rest before you allow your dog to fetch it.

Dogs can also be encouraged to play with toys by using a toy designed to have food pushed into it. Show your dog the toy, let your dog sniff the food and then roll the toy along the floor. Your dog will follow it and then be rewarded by being allowed to chew the food out. Your dog will associate the toy with food and will soon enjoy chasing the toy along the ground.

What type of play does your pup prefer?

Every dog has their own unique quirks and preferences, especially when it comes to play time! This is a great time to experiment and find what works best for your dog. You can encourage your dog to explore and play with new toys by offering him a tasty treat any time he shows an interest or demonstrates appropriate play. Making the experience fun and positive for your dog will encourage him to continue trying new things. Whether your pup loves balls or chew toys or just wants to shred his favorite plush friends, he’ll love spending the time with you.

Does your dog ignore every toy you bring home? There are still plenty of ways for the two of you to have fun together. Instead of using toys to exercise and stimulate your dog, try activities like nose work, agility, or herding. Many dogs prefer these more active pursuits over toys. You can also come up with your own games for your dog to try, like searching for treats hidden in the house or following scent trails that you’ve placed in the yard.

Dog Training Tutorial: How To Play With Your Dog

When it comes to playing with dogs, many strong opinions exist — especially around what you shouldn’t do. While I agree with some of these prohibitions, there are three common dog play “don’ts” that are in fact myths. Below, let’s bust them one by one. Just remember to read to the end for the real “don’ts.”