Tips for Healthy Ways to Play with Your Pet

If there’s anything dogs love more than sniffing each others’ butts, it’s playing a game with their owners!

How you play with your pup can have a huge impact on their personality and overall behavior, so it’s important to approach playtime with a sense of responsibility. The next time you head outside to toss a ball, keep these tips in mind.

Stay in Control

Tug of war is a popular game among dogs and their family, but it’s also a good way to cause aggression and possessiveness in your pup. It might seem cute to playfully argue with your dog when he refuses to let go of his rope, but what’s happening here is that you’re teaching your dog that’s he’s in charge and doesn’t have to listen to your commands. If he refuses to let go on the first command, drop your hand to your sides and stop playing with him. Sometimes it helps to gently grab his collar. Whatever you do, don’t keep up the game until he’s willing to listen.

Don’t Let Him Chase Children

Once your dog passes the puppy stage and outgrows your small children, having him chase them around the yard isn’t recommended. Mostly, this is because even if he means no harm he could easily bowl them over and cause injury. It could also instill a sense of dominance in the dog and lead him to believe he’s in charge of your kids. Instead, have your kids toss a ball for him to run after and bring back on command.

Hide and Seek

One great game to play with your dog is hide and seek. Most dogs were designed to hunt, and this game helps them utilize all of their senses! Make sure your dog is in a separate room (someone will probably need to hold him) then head off into the house or fenced-in yard to hide. Once you’re ready, simply shout his name and let his nose go to work! Go ahead and toss him a goodie or two when he finds you.

Use Healthy Treats

It’s important to incorporate treats into game time with your dog. This allows you to have a great time with him while also awarding him for good behavior. Playtime is a great tool to get in necessary exercise but stuffing him with fattening goods will cancel out all of that hard work. The right treats will give him the nutrition he needs and allow him to keep up his energy throughout the day. Healthy, natural treats are excellent ways to make playtime more fun!

Avoid Jumping Games

While you want your dog to be healthy and athletic, you don’t want to encourage him to jump on or near people. That’s why you should keep playtime below the waist whenever possible. Games where you hold a toy in the air and tell your pup to jump for it let him know that it’s okay to hop near other people. Instead, teach your dog to use the “pounce and shake” method where he throws a toy in the air himself. Alternatively, you can also toss his toy up away from your body while he stands a good distance away. If you time it right it’ll go above his head and he’ll leap into the air to snatch it!

Obstacle Courses

Some dogs are built for agility, which is a great excuse to build a course in your own backyard. Set up obstacles he can jump over, crawl through and weave around. You can run along and provide encouragement while he gets in his daily exercise. Then, once he completes the course you won’t have to feel guilty about providing him with a treat.

Meet the Author: Ben Kerns

Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible. This stuff gets expensive.

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