Playing With Your Dog?

Play is essential for good behavioral development in your dog. It comprises 4 elements that should be balanced: search/chase, possession, letting go, and rules to start and stop. Good tools are flirt poles (or toys on a cord to chase); tug toys; larger balls that can’t harm teeth (no tennis balls since they can be abrasive with dirt or swallowed); durable squeaky toys; toys scented with pheasant wings (place the toy in a zip lock with a pheasant wing to impart a scent; find them at hunting stores); basic puzzles; find it (or find you) games. Some toys aren’t safe, so you’ll have to use your judgment and research. No laser pointers (they have limited operational use but not as toys, we can discuss later) or flashlight chasing. Some dogs don’t show much interest in play… at first. We want to draw that out of your dog and build the fun aspects and relational aspects. The only caveat are highly aggressive dogs that aren’t really playing, but are engaging in what I’d call “pseudo-play”, where the activity can escalate into an attack. If you are dealing with aggression problems, or your gut senses something wrong, then stop the activity and we need to discuss. Play between dogs should be reciprocal, not serious, not painful, no raised hackles, no triggers for serious competition to turn into a fight. Again, these dogs need a lot more control work before they can be trusted to play together, if at all. Children who didn’t play, like chimpanzees who didn’t play, have a higher propensity to grow up to be violent offenders. Dogs that don’t play tend to have behavioral issues, and part of the way forward is to get playfulness to be a daily (or almost daily) activity.

Intro Video