Why Do Dogs Play? A new paper finds there are many reasons why dogs play – and play is not always a sign of good welfare.
|Photos: Natalia Fedosova; top, Johan Georg Theron. Both Shutterstock.|
We know: Playing with your dog is so much fun! And we totally agree! The stress of a hard day melts away while you and your pup build your bond.
Start off with short solo play sessions with lots of enticing, enriching toys to help your pup build up the comfort level with playing on his own. Then, simply mix in independent play times to your weekly routine!
If your dog feels happy and confident playing alone, when times are stressful–say, a bustling Thanksgiving dinner or a visiting friend with lots of rowdy children–your dog will know he can go off by himself and still have fun.
Unfortunately, we can’t take our dogs with us everywhere all the time. Your dog needs to be comfortable being alone on occasion, and encouraging solo play–like with a food puzzle–is a great way to do that.
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So why do dogs play?Ultimately, dogs play because it helps them learn motor skills, build social cohesion and prepare for unexpected things to happen so they can cope better when they do. Different stages of play may have different functions, with the beginning and end of a play bout especially important for social cohesion, while the main part of play is most important for learning motor skills and preparing for the unexpected.