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Live The Life

Fun features for you and your companion.

The Serious Benefits of Having Fun

Wednesday , May 15, 2013
Doggie DNA: Where Does Your Dog Come From?

Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from you life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of fun into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

The benefits of having fun

Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

  • Physical health. Being active helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
  • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
  • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
  • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
  • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and have fun with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

How to have fun with your dog

There are right ways—and wrong ways—to conduct playtime activities. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you have fun. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

Playtime tips

  • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
  • Stay in control of the game at all times. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
  • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
  • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
  • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog wants to keep playing.
  • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!
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