Dogs are social animals and one of the ways they build and learn about relationships and communication is through play. Playing with your dog regularly will teach you about your dog’s personality and strengthen the bond between you. By preventing boredom, providing exercise and giving an outlet for your dog’s natural instincts, play can ensure inappropriate behaviour does not develop.

It depends on your dog’s personality. Watch what your dog does when excited. Does your dog chase, grab or pounce on things? Experiment with a few different toys and, using a toy, mimic your dog’s natural play behaviour.

Games fall into four main categories

  • Tug of war – toys to use include raggers and rubber rings
  • Chase and retrieve – use balls and Kongs on rope
  • Hide, seek and search – can be played with people, toys or food
  • Brain games for dogs and puppies

Whatever toys you use make sure they are suitable for your dog. Check the toys regularly to ensure there are no small parts that could be chewed off and swallowed.

Have a selection of toys and swap them every few days to keep your dog interested.

Basic rules of play:

  • Before you begin to play make sure you can easily take things away from your dog. If not, teach the ‘leave’ command
  • Don’t play rough and tumble wrestling games or allow your dog to chase children. Both are exciting for your dog but can encourage games that are out of your control.
  • Keep toys below waist height so that you don’t encourage your dog to jump up
  • Have frequent, daily, play sessions at home and when out for walks
  • Play in short bursts of up to five minutes and finish whilst your dog is still keen to play
  • When playing use an exciting voice with lots of praise and encouragement
  • For dogs that are keen to play only start the game when they are doing something you want – such as lying down quietly. This will encourage good behaviour.
  • Tidy toys away at the end of each play session
  • Never force your dog to play
  • Have fun!

Remember training should be fun too. It keeps your dog’s mind occupied and you can use games and food treats to reward good behaviour. For ideas of fun, useful and rewarding things to teach your dog see the following books::

Brain games for puppies,

Russian Toy terrier training guide,

Good pup, Good Dog,

Dima’s Dog school

I want good dog


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