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Playing With Your Dog

March 11, 2024

One of the many things we love about our canine friends is the fact that they are so playful. Fido looks absolutely adorable when he is running and jumping after his favorite ball, or happily attaching that cute plushie you got him at the pet store. Playing isn’t just fun for Man’s Best Friend: it’s actually crucial to his health and well-being. A local Exeter, CA veterinarian offers some insight on this below.

Do Dogs Like When You Play With Them?

Most dogs love it! Of course, our canine pals are all unique: some pups are more interested in naps. Older dogs may also prefer dozing in the sun to chasing balls.

How Many Hours A Day Should You Play With Your Dog?

This will depend on your pet’s activity level and personality, as well as your schedule. Some of our canine companions would love to play with their humans all day, every day. Unfortunately, most of us have other responsibilities, such as work, that get in the way.

Try to shoot for 30-60 minutes a day. This can be two sessions, or several shorter ones. We know, you may not have that much time every day. At a minimum, try to carve out at least a few minutes of doggy playtime. This will be good for you, too! 

How Can I Play With My Dog Indoors?

Sooner or later, cold or rainy weather will put a damper on your doggy playdates … or at least the outdoor ones. You can still keep Fido entertained indoors. You can play Fetch or Tug O War with him, as long as you have room and aren’t surrounded by fragile or sharp objects. Puzzle toys are also great for indoors. Scavenger hunts work well inside, too, as does Hide and Seek.

Is It Okay To Roughhouse With Your Dog?

We can’t give a blanket yes or no here: it ultimately depends on both the person and the pooch. Some pooches enjoy letting their inner wolves out, so to speak. You may also notice that dogs sometimes play rough with each other.

That said, safety should always be the biggest thing. With some dogs, roughhousing can become dangerous, as it can provoke aggressive behaviors. 

Only play rough if both you and Fido enjoy it, and if it can be done in a controlled manner. That means that wrestling will stop immediately if either of you become uncomfortable, or if things get too heated. 

Your pet’s age, size, and health also factor in. A two-year old Boxer may enjoy a bit of wrestling. However, this wouldn’t be safe or suitable for a senior or a Chihuahua.

In general, we would advise that, as always, you err on the side of caution and consult your Exeter, CA vet.

What Are The Benefits Of Playing With Your Dog?

Playing is great for Fido in several ways. In fact, aside from making sure he’s eating good food, seeing his Exeter, CA veterinarian regularly, and generally healthy, it’s one of the best things you can do for him!

Here are some of the key benefits:

Exercise: Dogs need to stay fit to remain healthy, just like people do. Running and jumping are great doggy workouts for Fido!

Mental Stimulation: Did you know that bored dogs are much more likely to misbehave? Fido is quite smart, and he needs enrichment and stimulation. Playing is a great way to make sure those wheels stay turning. This is also great for senior dogs, as it can help combat cognitive decay.

Bonding: When you hold a stick, ball, or Frisbee for Fido, or indulge him in a game of Tug-O-War, he’ll know that you’re making an effort to please him by doing something he loves. That can go a long way towards bonding.

Curb Bad Behaviors: Playing is a great way for Fido to burn off those extra zoomies. That’s very important! Your canine buddy will probably be a bit tired after he’s finished playing. Being tired will naturally calm him down. After a fun play session, he’ll probably be better behaved and more interested in napping than in tearing up your flower beds. 

In fact, if you don’t let your pet burn off that extra energy, you may find yourself with a four-legged, furry bundle of mischief on your hands. That can actually be dangerous, as Fido may turn to bad—and sometimes unsafe—options for entertaining himself.

Stability: Our canine pals certainly have a taste for adventure. However, at the end of the day, many of them really thrive on routine. Taking time to play with your pet every day can help him feel safe and secure.

It’s Fun: Fido isn’t the only one who will benefit from doggy playtime. Tossing a Frisbee or ball for your pet is a great day to wind down and/or shake off a bad day at work. Our furry best friends are never as adorable as when they are hard at play.

What Kind Of Games Do Dogs Like To Play?

Dogs can enjoy many different games! You can play Hide and Seek, Tug O war, or Fetch. You can also give many popular kids’ games a dog-friendly twist. For example, Red Light, Green Light can become Stay, Come. Tag is also popular with our furry friends. Just keep in mind that it’s better for Fido to chase you. You don’t want your pooch to think that having you run after him is fun!

What Type Of Play is Safe For My Dog?

This one will very much depend on your pet’s health, age, size, and temperament. Not every activity is safe or suitable for all dogs. A Golden Retriever may think a day spent chasing balls or running off a dock and jumping into the pond is the best day ever. However, this would be downright dangerous for a pug, as they get winded very easily and can’t swim safely.

This may also change over time. If you have a puppy that is a large breed, your vet may recommend that you avoid encouraging Fido to jump or stand on his back legs until he is fully grown. That may take longer than you think: some pooches don’t finish growing until they are a few years old. 

You’ll also need to be careful with seniors. Older dogs are quite fragile, and can also get tired easily. Once your pet enters his golden years, you’ll want to slowly start to change the focus over to games that challenge his mind, rather than his body.

How Do I Know If I’m Playing With My Dog Too Much?

This can be a tricky one! Our canine friends are very loyal. This is in general a wonderful trait, but there is a risk here for pet owners to be aware of. Dogs will overexert themselves to please their humans. Fido may drive himself to or even beyond the point of exhaustion if he thinks that’s what you want from him. Take care not to overdo it.

Watch for signs of fatigue, such as heavy panting or slowing down. If you spot any, immediately end the play session and let your pup enjoy some cool, clean water and a nap.

In Conclusion: Dogs are always cute when they are hard at play. Playing is both fun and beneficial for your pet. Just take some basic safety precautions and take care not to overdo it.

Do you have questions about what is and is not suitable play for your dog? Contact us, your Exeter, CA pet hospital, anytime!

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