Letting your dog indulge in a long game of fetch or a romp through the park may seem like it’s all fun and games, but doggy playtime is about a lot more than that. No matter what kind of play your pup likes to participate in, encouraging playtime will have a big impact on your canine friend’s overall health and well-being. Dogs of all ages benefit from daily play sessions. From puppies still learning to control their limbs to senior dogs with a lot of vitality left, here are a few reasons you should never skip out on playing with your dog.
#1 – Exercise
Exercise is as important for dogs as it is for humans, but your pup can’t hit the gym to burn those extra calories. Instead, they stay fit by running, jumping, prancing, and tugging. Moving around during playtime works core muscles and strengthens joints. Pet obesity is a serious problem, and even a few extra pounds will impact your pup’s health. As your pet ages, exercise becomes even more important. Heart disease and increased blood pressure are more common in older dogs, and being overweight puts them especially at risk.
#2 – Better Behavior
When your dog is out having fun, they’re not thinking up ways to get the lid off the trashcan or about how tasty your shoes are. Their mind is focused on fun, and when playtime is over, those mischievous antics don’t seem as important. Bored dogs are too often classified as “bad dogs.” Your new puppy may be behaving in ways you don’t appreciate, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. Keep them occupied with regular play sessions and plenty of toys to help them stay on their best behavior.
#3 – Socialization
Playtime is always better with friends. Like house training and obedience commands, social skills are something puppies and dogs have to learn. They need to know how to interact with other dogs and humans outside their immediate family. Socialization is especially important for puppies, but it’s a never-ending process. Puppies, adult dogs, and seniors all benefit from interacting with others. Isolation can affect their health and happiness, but you can prevent it by taking your play sessions to the park or other dog-friendly places.
#4 – Mental Stimulation
Playtime is your puppy’s chance to practice using all their senses. It’s their way of learning about the world around them, and encouraging different kinds of play in different environments and with different playmates gives them a chance to bolster their brains. As your puppy grows, their need for mental stimulation changes, but it doesn’t go away. Brain workouts will help adult and senior dogs keep their reflexes, reaction times, and memories sharp. Confusion and anxiety can affect senior dogs, but playing can help stop cognitive decline.
A fun, mentally stimulating toy takes things up a notch compared with your standard tennis ball. A toy that hides a treat or bounces in an unpredictable direction is perfect for getting your dog excited and engaged. The Project Play collection available in the iHeartDogs.com store. Every Project Play purchase provides a toy for shelter dogs with every purchase!
#5 – Bonding
Above all, playtime is your chance to focus on your relationship with your dog. You’re not distracted by work, and they’re thrilled to have their favorite person playing their favorite game with them. All dogs need love and attention, and if it takes throwing a ball a few hundred times or strengthening your biceps with a good game of tug to show your dog you care, it’s all worth it. Playtime is your opportunity to get to know your new puppy, and it shows your older dog that no matter what, you’ll always be best buds.