This first, and likely most obvious, benefit of playtime is exercise. Your dog needs to stay as fit as they can by running, jumping, prancing, and tugging.
Playtime can strengthen core muscles and joints. And as your pet ages, exercise becomes even more important because heart disease and increased blood pressure are more common in older dogs than younger ones. This makes a dog being overweight especially risky.
Playtime is a good time for fostering a strong bond with your dog. It lets you focus on your relationship without distractions (like work). And trust us, your dog will appreciate the attention and love you provide.
It's also an opportunity to get to know your new puppy or to show your older dog that you'll always be best buds.
3. Better Behavior
Bored dogs often focus on fun, or mischievous, antics. This can lead to a negative perception of them as "bad dogs," unfortunately.
If you want to maintain good behavior, keep them occupied with regular play sessions and even plenty of toys. And you should always remember that even if they behave in ways you don't appreciate, it doesn't mean they're bad.
By focusing on fun and enjoyment, your new puppy (or in some cases, older dogs), can stay on their best behavior.
4. Mental Stimulation
Playtime is an important time for dogs to learn about the world and strengthen their brains. Encouraging different types of play in different types of environments and with different playmates helps them maintain sharp reflexes, reaction times, and memories.
Admittedly, as puppies grow, their need for mental stimulation changes. But playing can help prevent cognitive decline in adult and senior dogs,
If you need some ideas, a stimulating toy with a hidden treat or unpredictable bounce is ideal for keeping your dog excited and engaged, and provides a unique and enjoyable experience.
Playtime with friends is beneficial for puppies and dogs. This is because they learn social skills and interact with humans and other dogs outside their immediate family.
Socialization is crucial for dogs of all ages, and isolation can negatively impact their health and happiness. Taking play sessions to dog-friendly places can enhance playtime and overall well-being.
How to Tell Playtime From Aggression
Doggie play sessions can become intense when dogs have arguments. And it's difficult to interpret the snarls, growls, bared teeth, and body slams that characterize both behaviors.
As long as both dogs are well-socialized, let their body language guide you, and you'll feel confident in deciding whether to intervene and break up the wrestling match.
Signs that your dog is indeed playing are:
- The play bow
- Heavy panting
- Exposing their belly
And finally, signs that a dog is behaving aggressively include:
- Rigid posture
- Sharp, sudden, focused movements as if indicating attack moves
- Deepening, intensifying growls that become louder
- Hair standing up on the back of the neck