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The Importance of Play!

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Your dog needs to "play" to be a well-rounded, well-behaved, and healthy dog. Your dog, no doubt, has plenty of toys (chew toys, ropes, balls) laying around the house... but, how can you keep your dog challenged, both mentally and physically?

The answer is: Interactive Play!
A new study released by Bristol University has found that play is the key to our dogs' well being. The study of 4,000 dog owners showed that dogs who don’t engage in a lot of play suffer from up to 22 different behavioral issues such as anxiety and aggression. Less play time leads to an increase in whining, jumping up, and not coming when called. 

Here are some of the ways that having fun is important for your dog:
  • Physical health: active play keeps your dog's heart healthy and improves his balance and coordination skills.
  • Mental health: games will force your dog to use his brain, not just his body.
  • Bonding: Playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
  • Your own health: what could be better than leaving the office after a stressful workday and enjoying exercise and fun with your dog?

Interactive Play is not just about giving your dog a new toy. Why not teach him how to play a game? Games may include simple things like fetching a ball or "find the treat" -- or anything you can put your mind to! When teaching your dog a new game, always reward him when he does well. Rewards don't have to be just treats, but it also can be a favorite toy or lots of praise. What about hide-and-go-seek or a simple game of tag?

If you don't have time to teach your dog a game, treat-dispensing toys and puzzles work well to stimulate your pup's mind.

Be weary of tug-of-war games. Oftentimes, dogs get over-excited and cause a wrestling match that may be carried out to the bitter end. Also, these sorts of games encourage biting and aggressive behavior. Proper tug-of-war games can be done, but require some training and positive reinforcement.

What sorts of games do you play with your dog? Let us know on the Facebook page and share your ideas with our Pets Plus family.