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How Play Benefits Dogs

Dog Playing Ball Fetch
When someone adopts a dog, they commit not just to regularly feeding the canine but also to keeping them physically and mentally active. Thankfully, playing with a dog provides a broad array of benefits that keep the dog healthy and happy for years to come. 

Why Dogs Love to Play 

Anyone who has a dog knows that many dogs like to play various types of games with their owners and other dogs. For example, owners may find that their dogs love chasing after a stick, tugging on a favorite toy, or running and jumping with other canines at the puppy park. These playful antics warm the heart of most dog owners but also serve an essential role in a dog's development. 
First of all, play activities teach dogs important hunting and defense techniques. For example, a dog in the wild would learn how to chase down prey by playing with their mother, father, and siblings. While a domesticated dog doesn't need to hunt food anymore, the instinct for this type of training is still buried in the dog's mind. 
As a result, playing with a dog is not just a way to have a little fun with a pup but an essential outlet for their instincts. And, just as importantly, playing also provides dogs - and owners - with a multitude of benefits that go far beyond expressing instinctive actions. 

How Play Activities Benefit Dogs 

Over the years, veterinarians have tested the many benefits of dog play and have found that it provides a dog with many benefits.
Better Physical Health 
Dogs who play regularly work their heart, lungs, muscles, and joints in ways that they don't when sitting around the house. Even 15-30 minutes of playing every day can help improve a dog's physical health and may also help overweight dogs lose weight.  
Improved Socialization 
When dogs play with other canines, they interact in intuitive ways that enhance their socialization skills. Play with other dogs teaches them valuable lessons about how to interact with other canines and what behavior is appropriate.
Boosted Mental Health 
Pups who are allowed to laze around the house all day may end up getting very bored or becoming less mentally active. Thankfully, playing with a dog - particularly with games that use rules - can push their mind and improve their cognitive skills.  
Increased Emotional Connection 
Play is an essential facet of a dog's emotional life, whether with their owner or other dogs. As a result, owners who feel a disconnect with their dog may want to play with them more often to increase that bond a little bit more. 
These play benefits apply not only to the dog but also to their owner. When owners play with their dog, they get in a little bit of exercise, relax their mind a little bit, and bond more closely with their pup. All of these benefits make play an excellent activity for all involved. 

Which Games to Play With Dogs 

Dog owners can choose from many fun games to play with their pups, including:
  • Tug-of-war 
  • Hide-and-seek 
  • Treasure hunt
  • Foot race
  • Obstacle course
  • Swimming race (if a dog likes the water)
  • Red light, green light
  • Trick showcases (sitting, speaking, etc.)
When playing with a pup, make sure to reward them after the game is over. A healthy snack, such as a baby carrot, may be a good choice. 
If your dog needs help learning how to play appropriately with other dogs, please don't hesitate to contact us at Eli's Friends. We can help socialize dogs in our daycare center and provide them with the fun play activities that they need to be healthy. 

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