Interactive play is not only important for children, but it’s also important for puppies, too. Play-learning is important when growing as it engages the brain and teaches important life lessons that can be taken into adulthood.
Like humans, puppies play from an early age. They will play-fight with their litter siblings by wrestling, playing tug-of-war, stealing toys, sneaking up, and chasing each other. This is also when they will learn important social boundaries, like when play gets too rough.
Dogs are naturally curious and playing also helps them to solve puzzles. Whilst dogs are not the most logical animals, they learn more quickly from watching others complete a task before them. It's therefore important that a dog is well-socialised at an early age, as well as given interesting and interactive toys to play with. A dog who plays, particularly when that play is interactive, is well on the way to becoming a smart, healthy and well-rounded dog.
Playing is also an important form of exercise, helping to stimulate the dog both mentally and physically. An owner playing with their dog will also increase the bond between them. A dog who plays up to three hours a day tends to be more stable and generally happier than dogs who don't. If you don’t allow time for your dog to play each day, they will find another way to exert this energy and this is when behavioural issues can occur.
It’s not difficult to stimulate your pup – in fact, most of the ways you already play with him are probably engaging him already! Fetch, tug rope, play fighting and dog chews are all ways in which they can learn to engage with us, their environment, and with themselves.
There are also some great interactive toys made specifically to engage a dog's senses that you can use to get their mental juices flowing and keep them occupied for hours. These toys are particularly handy when a dog needs to be left alone for a few hours.
If your dog is showing behavioural issues or you'd like to know more about interactive play, e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org