Good for you, good for your dog too
For the second week of April we are exploring the importance of playing with dogs - an activity that offers huge benefits to both pups and their owners.
To get involved, send us a photo of you and your dog engaging in playtime, or upload it to Instagram using #PlayWithBarc 🦴
I'm sure as a dog owner, you'll have had a tennis ball dropped expectantly in your lap before, or a teddy flicked across your view of the television screen time and time again.
Dogs love to play, we all know that. The benefits they can gain from playtime are plentiful, but have you ever thought of the positive effects it can have on you? We are more than happy to encourage children to let off steam and just have some fun, but why don't we allow ourselves to do the same?
As adults, it can be tricky for our minds to switch off and relax after work, which can increase risks of exhaustion and burnout. Finding an outlet to let ourselves refresh, relieve some stress and just have fun is exactly what most of us are missing.
Luckily, as dog owners we are blessed with the perfect companion for play time!
In our guide below, we explain why playtime is so important and share fun games you can enjoy with your dog.
Discover more about playing with dogs:
- What are the benefits of playing with dogs?
- Why is it important for dogs to play?
- Why are dogs so playful?
- Should you play with your dog everyday?
- How long should you play with your puppy?
- How does playing with your dog reduce stress?
- The best games to play with your dog:
- PLAY with Barc London
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What are the benefits of playing with dogs?
Dogs are incredible animals, and there are so many mutual benefits of playing with them. Not only do they provide entertainment and companionship, but they can also help you develop your relationships with other people and animals.
Dogs provide us with the perfect outlet after a long day or week at work to let off some steam and just have fun. Similar to the benefits of walking your dog, studies have shown that spending quality play time with them provides you with a number of health benefits, including:
- Releases endorphins (the feel good chemicals!)
- Stimulates creativity and productivity
- Increases brain functionality and memory
- Provides stress relief
- Prevents burnout
- Improves sleep
Many people are put off by the thought of exercise or going to the gym, which is why playing with your dog can be a fun way of burning some calories without feeling like you’re working too hard.
Why is it important for dogs to play?
There are also a number of benefits your dog will gain from play time, including:
- Improves your dog's general health and wellbeing
- Involves training exercises which can lead to better behaviour
- Strengthens the bond between you and your dog
- Provides your dog with a much needed energy release
- Keeps your dog's mind stimulated, increasing focus
Why are dogs so playful?
Dogs are some of the best companions we humans could ask for. They're loyal, loving, and always ready for a good time. But what's so special about dogs that makes them so playful?
Turns out, dogs have a lot in common with humans - they are social creatures who love to play. So what's the reason for all the fun?
Dogs keep in high spirits because they're exploring their world and learning new things. This is why playing with your dog is such an important part of their life - it helps them stay healthy and happy!
Their playful nature stems from puppyhood and research shows the importance of play for puppies to gain necessary motor skills.
Running, rolling, pouncing and shaking all help a puppy learn coordination and balance, and interacting with other dogs through play helps them learn boundaries and communication.
Should you play with your dog everyday?
Yes, you should. Studies have demonstrated the importance of play for a dog's wellbeing, with results showing that dogs who don't engage in enough play tend to suffer from behavioural issues such as anxiety and aggression.
To have a happy and healthy dog, it is recommended that you should aim to get 2 x 15 minute sessions of play a day, combined with their daily walks.
This can vary from breed to breed as energy levels can differ, and also with age as dogs tend to slow down as they get older.
If your dog isn't feeling up for a play session, maybe try a snuffle mat or a food puzzle to keep their mind stimulated, or even just spend some quality time cuddling on the sofa. They will thrive from the interaction with you.
How long should you play with your puppy?
Although we know that not allowing your dog to play enough can lead to health and behavioural issues, did you know that letting a puppy play too much can be just as bad?
There is a rough guide called ‘The 5 Minute Rule’ which is a good starting place to figure out how much exercise your puppy needs. With the five minute rule, you start with 5 minutes of exercise, and increase the length of puppy play for every month of their age. For example, 40 minutes of play / exercise for an 8 month old puppy.
It’s very important that you split this time up throughout the day, and mix up the forms of exercise. This could be 2 x 10 minute walks, and then 2 x 10 minute play sessions.
(This is a rough guide as no two dogs are the same. The specific amount of exercise your puppy needs depends on its breed, gender and general energy levels)
On average, puppies' growth plates don’t close until about one year of age. Letting a puppy run around and play too much before they have closed can put a lot of strain on these plates, which can lead to bone deformities and long term problems in the future.
How does playing with your dog reduce stress?
Since dogs require exercise and play, becoming a dog owner can help you to lead a more active lifestyle. Playing with dogs helps to lower the stress hormone cortisol, and boost endorphins - the feel-good chemicals that help us stay calm and increase feelings of pleasure and well-being.
Along with these benefits, by creating an exercise routine where you walk and play with your dog twice a day, research has shown that greater consistency in your schedule can lead to lower anxiety levels and improved sleep quality.
So, if you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed, why not take some time to play with your furry friend? You'll be glad you did!
The best games to play with dogs:
If you're looking for fun ways to spend more time with your dog, you're in luck! There are many great games that you can play with your pup, and all of them are sure to keep you both engaged and entertained. Games to play with your dog include:
The perfect game for energetic dogs. Not only does fetch provide plenty of physical exercise, it also lets them fulfil their instinct to run and chase. Our ball thrower is the perfect addition to your dog walks in the park. Find out more about our fetch dog toys.
If you're looking for games to play with dogs inside, tug is a great choice! Keeping your pup both mentally and physically stimulated, tug helps to tap into a dog's predatory nature. Tug toys can also be used as training tools and provide an excellent time to teach your dog the ‘drop it’ command.
Hide & Seek
Offering even more mental stimulation, Hide and Seek gives dogs a chance to follow their noses and use their problem solving skills.
You can either hide their favourite toy or treats somewhere difficult and leave a scent trail for them to follow. Or you can teach them the ‘wait’ command and go and hide yourself. This brain game provides the perfect opportunity for them to use their scent trailing instincts, as well as teaching them new commands like 'wait’ and ‘come’.
PLAY with Barc London
Knowing how important play is for a dog’s health and wellbeing as well as your own, we at Barc have a number of products in our Play Range that will make playtime that much easier.
Our collection includes toys for both interactive and independent play. From dog bones to squeaky balls, you'll find just what you need to have fun.
It’s important to remember that not all dogs will require the same levels of interaction and will prefer different types of games, so make sure you learn and adjust your pup's routine to fit what works best for you both.
Comment below to let us know your favourite playtime activity with pup!