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Why is playtime vital for dogs?

Keeping your dog active is good for both their physical and mental well-being. This includes walks and fun games. Today, our Thornton vets discuss some benefits playtime can have for your dog from puppyhood throughout their senior years.

The Benefits of Doggie Playtime

We all lead such busy lives that skipping playtime with your dog and cuddling on the couch can be tempting. But our canine companions actually need playtime for its physical and psychological benefits. Here are a few reasons puppy and adult dog playtime is crucial to your pup's well-being.

1. Exercise

The first and likely most obvious benefit of playtime is exercise. Your dog needs to stay as fit as possible by running, jumping, prancing, and tugging. 

Playtime is essential for building strength and keeping your dog's joints moving smoothly throughout their lifetime. As your pet ages, however, exercise becomes even more important to maintain a healthy weight and avoid increasing their risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. Carrying extra weight can seriously threaten your dog's health and vitality.

2. Bonding

Playtime is the ideal time for fostering a strong bond with your dog. These joyful times together allow you to focus on your relationship without distractions (like work). Trust us – your dog will appreciate the attention and love you provide.

It's also an opportunity to get to know your new puppy or to show your older dog that you'll always be best buds.

3. Better Behavior

Bored dogs often focus on fun or mischievous antics, which can lead to a negative perception of them as 'bad dogs.' 

A tired dog is a good dog. If you want to maintain good behavior, keep your four-legged friend occupied with regular play sessions and plenty of toys that provide them with mental stimulation and fun. By focusing on fun and enjoyment with you at various points throughout the day, your new puppy, or adult dog, won't have to work as hard to stay on their best behavior when you are busy with other things.

And you should always remember that even if they behave in ways you don't appreciate, it doesn't mean they're bad. 

4. Mental Stimulation

Playtime is important for dogs to learn about the world and strengthen their brains. Encouraging different types of play in different environments and with different playmates helps them maintain sharp reflexes, reaction times, and memories. 

Admittedly, as puppies grow, their need for mental stimulation changes. However, playing may help prevent cognitive decline in adult and senior dogs.

A stimulating toy with a hidden treat or unpredictable bounce is ideal for keeping your dog excited and engaged and provides a unique and enjoyable experience. Other activities include teaching your dog scent tracking or playing hide and seek using their favorite toy.

5. Socialization

Playtime with friends is as beneficial for our four-legged family members as it is for children. This is because, just like us, dogs need to learn and improve their social skills through regular interactions with other dogs and people outside their immediate family. 

Start while they are young to avoid poor doggy social skills later in life. Remember, socialization is crucial for dogs of all ages, and isolation can negatively impact their health and happiness. Doggy playtime outside the home, in dog-friendly places, can enhance this fun time together and your dog's overall well-being.

What kind of playtime do puppies enjoy?

You should aim to give your puppy five minutes of playtime or free roaming (in a safe, fenced in area) per month of their age, twice daily. For example, if your puppy is four months old, you would multiply five (minutes) by four (months), which equals 20. So, you would play with your dog for 20 minutes twice each day.

A puppy's favorite games are chase, fetch, tug-of-war and search or hide-and-seek.

What can you do to play with your adult dog?

Generally, an adult dog needs at least 30 minutes fo playtime each day. Less active dog breeds should have 30 to 60 minutes of play, while active breeds require much more. This can include simple walks. Along with walks, you can play games like tug-o-war, fetch and hide-and-seek with your pup.

How should you play with your senior dog?

Even a senior dog needs daily exercise, at least 30 minutes. While the amount of exercise they need is less, the stimulation and movement are still vital to their well-being. When playing with them, it's important to choose low-impact activities like swimming.

The Difference Between Aggression & Playtime

Doggy play sessions can become intense when dogs have arguments. For many pet parents, it's difficult to interpret the snarls, growls, bared teeth, and body slams that characterize both behaviors. 

As long as both dogs are well-socialized, let their body language guide you, and you'll feel confident in deciding whether to intervene and break up the wrestling match.

Signs that your dog is indeed playing are:

  • The play bow
  • Heavy panting
  • Exposing their belly

Signs that a dog is behaving aggressively include:

  • Rigid posture
  • Sharp, sudden, focused movements as if indicating attack moves
  • Deepening, intensifying growls that become louder
  • Hair standing up on the back of the neck

What if you don't have time to play?

We all feel overwhelmed occasionally, unable to fit even more small things into our busy schedules. Doggy daycare was made for days like these! Taking your pup to a reputable dog daycare can provide your four-legged family member with all the physical and mental stimulation they need to feel contented at the end of the day. These programs provide ample supervised playtime with other dogs, allowing your pup to build on their social skills while having fun. If you don't have time to play with your pup, boarding can be crucial. Without proper play and stimulation, dogs can develop anxiety and depression and even display destructive and aggressive tendencies.

At our pet boarding facilities in Thornton, you can treat your furry friends to the best of everything. From our large canine suites to our luxurious kitty condos, we have comfortable places for guests of all sizes.

Each boarding suite is furnished with comfortable bedding and is kept clean and sanitary to ensure our guest’s health and comfort. Each pet receives the highest level of care, fun, and adventure that we can provide throughout their vacation.

Ask our veterinary team about our pet boarding services and what you can expect while your dog stays with us.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Would you like to schedule your dog for daycare? Contact Caring Hands Veterinary Hospital today to book your dog's stay.

New Patients Welcome

Caring Hands Veterinary Hospital is always accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about providing kind and loving veterinary care to Thornton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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