Play is magic and an amazing boost to mood and relationship but how often do you play with your dog? Let’s take a closer look at canine playtime.
Signs to look for in how dogs play to ensure that it is good play include:
It is important that we use careful observation and intervene if the situation stops being fun for any of the dogs. Although due to how dogs play the play can look quite intense, overly rough play should not be permitted. Watch the play carefully. If one dog is always playing the aggressor and another dog is trying to get away, whimpering or yelping, or giving constant appeasement signals, then it is not good play, and we should intervene to remove the overwhelmed and worried dog to safety.
When we play with our dogs (as a completely different species), the role is similar, we treat it like a dance and follow the rules of fair play whilst also maintaining our dog’s confidence and growing their desire to engage with us, which will spill over into all areas of our life together.
A dog who is engaged with us will be less likely to run away or respond to distractions because they are focussed and already having fun with their human. To achieve engagement, we simply need to work out what motivates the dog then use it with wisdom. Motivation is always decided by the dog, some love scattered food whilst others love a tug toy.
The more you engage with your dog through bonding activities, such as play, the more stable your bank of trust and investment in your relationship is. Simply put, the closer you are during peace times the more belief your dog will have in you when he is scared. That practised engagement is extremely useful when you accidentally stumble upon something distracting on walks. Remember this:
So, by learning to play at home and practising your dog’s preferences, you will have a much more effective toolkit to grow and use when your dog experiences distractions and things that would normally call his attention away from you.