It may sound odd to say we need to learn how to play with our dog. If you adopted your dog as a puppy, you may have developed play times together. If you have adopted a shelter or rescue dog, you may have a dog who has not seen toys or chews before. Playing with our dog is actually part of developing the bond between dog and pet parent. Providing your dog with safe non-toxic toys and making time just for play together is a great start. But dogs need physical and mental stimulation. There are dog puzzles that provide fun mental stimulation for dogs and basic obedience training can be disguised as play very easily. Overall, there are so many mutual benefits to play.
Pet Parent Question:
My friend told me about the puzzles she has for her dog. When we showed my dog the puzzle, he did not seem to like them. Why would that be?
Just like we teach our dogs to play fetch and how to play with other toys, we also need to teach them how to work a puzzle. A puzzle usually involves a hidden treat, and the dog needs to figure out how to get the treat. Introducing your dog to the concept by showing him where to find the treat then letting your dog figure it out is usually all it takes. Make sure the puzzle fits the age and size of your dog. Remember, it is never good to tease a dog by pretending to give them a treat and not follow through. It is always about building trust with your dog, Teaching them to play is one way to promote trust and quality bonding time together.
Donna Chicone is an award-winning author, TEDx speaker and advocate for dogs. She lives in Woodbury. You might find her engaged in pet-assisted therapy work. superpetparent.com