Playtime And Your Dog

Playtime provides physical and mental benefits that contribute to your dog's happiness and health. We share some helpful hints for making sure your dog has fun both with and without you.

The time your dog spends playing isn't just for enjoyment. Your dog will benefit greatly from its playtime.

Mental stimulation, an outlet for pent-up energy, bonding with you, and the physical benefits of exercise are just a few of the benefits your dog can gain from time spent playing.

Of course, from your dog's point of view, it's all about having fun.

However, the time you spend playing with your dog can be a lot of fun for you as well. When you're gone, solo play can keep your dog entertained and happy while it waits for you to return.


Here are a few suggestions for playtime that will get most dogs' tails wagging:

Fetch. An all-time favorite. Fetch comes naturally to some dogs. Others must be taught. And the toy you use can make or break the situation. An old stick will suffice for some dogs. Others will light up when they see a Frisbee or a tennis ball. (However, don't use a regular Frisbee or tennis ball because they can harm your dog's teeth.) Purchase a dog-specific one.

Tug of war. Most dogs enjoy this game, but you must set some ground rules to keep it from getting out of hand. Teach your dog to release on command before you begin playing. While playing, keep an eye on your dog's behavior. A tail-wagging growl is acceptable, but a more serious growl is not. Stop immediately if the dog's teeth come into contact with your hand. It's also fine to let your dog win!

Hide and seek. Grab a really good treat and go hide somewhere. But don't make it too difficult; 'hide' somewhere obvious, such as a chair, an open door, or a small bush. Call your dog and wait for it to come to you. When it does, reward it with a treat. You can also teach your dog to find hidden objects other than yourself with patience.

Chase. Most dogs enjoy being chased and playing keep-away if you're physically fit enough. However, your dog will most likely outlast you in this game!

Remember that not all dogs enjoy all types of play. In that regard, they are similar to humans in that each dog has unique preferences and dislikes.

So try out different games and see which ones your dog seems to enjoy the most. If your dog does not appear to enjoy a particular playtime activity, there is no reason to continue playing that game. Simply choose another.


If you are away from home for an extended period of time, your dog must be able to entertain itself. However, the vast majority of dog toys are not suitable for unsupervised play. Some chew toys and plush toys, for example, should be given to your dog only when you will be present to monitor for problems.

However, there are certain types of toys that are ideal for doggy home alone play:

Toys that dispense food. Toys containing a tasty treat can keep your dog occupied for hours. You can purchase toys that can be stuffed with a treat and that the dog will chew and lick in order to get to the treat. You can also buy toys that hide a treat and require your dog to solve a puzzle to get to it - sort of like a doggie Rubik's Cube.

Extremely tough chew toys. Hard rubber or nylon toys like Nylabones and Linkables are unlikely to splinter or break into large pieces. However, unless you've already seen your dog playing with such toys, never leave your dog alone with them. Even these tough chew toys shouldn't be used for unsupervised play if you've discovered that your dog has a particularly aggressive chewing style.

Make sure to only use these toys when your dog is alone at home. Your dog shouldn't always have access to them. If your dog has access to the toys constantly, they will quickly lose their value as fillers for home alone time because they will become mundane and boring.


Active and enjoyable play is essential in preventing your dog from becoming a dull (or disruptive) boy or girl.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, playing is enjoyable for everyone!