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Games and Play Time Ideas for Your Puppy

 by simone on 11 Aug 2014 |
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Puppies are cute, fluffy, floppy and so much fun! Nobody will need any persuading to play with a puppy, but there are games that will help your young dog develop into a well-behaved and active mature dog.

Importance of play
Play is important for your puppy’s physical and mental development. Through play and exploration, your puppy learns about the world. It teaches them proper socialisation and acceptable behaviour, eliminates boredom and destructive behaviours and is a fantastic opportunity for you to bond with your pet.  Playtime is also a great time to train your puppy basic obedience.
By three weeks of age, puppies start to exhibit play actions like pouncing, chasing, shaking objects, tugging, play wrestling, fighting and biting.
Social play can be with people and children, other puppies, calm older dogs or other animals. This type of play is important for socialisation and will give your puppy positive experiences and teaches them correct, or incorrect, behaviours. Socialisation is best done during your puppy's first four months. Object play includes games such as fetch, tug-of-war, ball-play and toys.

Things to remember
  • Puppies tire easily so limit playtime to short bursts of 10-15 minutes with lots of rest in between.
  • Be gentle with your puppy as their bones, joints and bodies are still developing.
  • Do not force your puppy to run, or chase them. Until their joints are fully formed, your puppy can be injured easily.
  • Play a variety of games for mental stimulation, and provide them with a mix of appropriate toys both pacifier/chew toys and interactive toys like squeaky, puzzle and tug toys. 
  • Reward your puppy’s correct behaviour and success with lots of affection, encouragement and occasional treats. Dogs respond best to positive reinforcement.
  • Don’t encourage aggressive behaviour or for your puppy to bite, chew or paw at your clothing, hands, face or any part of your body. 
  • Do not over-excite your puppy and always speak with a firm and calm voice.
  • Play fights and biting are normal behaviour for young puppies. They will also bark and growl.
  • Stop play immediately if aggressive behaviour occurs. Signs of aggression include; long low growling, stiff posture, direct stares, snarling and showing teeth and prolonged biting. 
  • Play ideas for your puppy 
    • It’s the perfect time to begin, or reinforce, basic training and obedience during play. Commands such as sit, stay, come, drop and fetch are perfect to incorporate into games. You can also begin leash and muzzle training at this early stage.
    • Give your puppy a large ball to push around. It’s simple and they will... well, have a ball doing it.
    • Puzzle toys will keep your puppy occupied and provide mind activity. 
    • Make your puppy an outdoor or indoor obstacle course with boxes, pillows, tunnels, ramps, steps and holes to climb over or jump through.
    • Take your puppy for short walks in different locations and environments such as streets, parks, rivers, beaches, friends’ backyards and anywhere local councils allow dogs. This will not only be exciting for your puppy who will love all the new sights and smells, but will also encourage interaction with other people and other dogs.
    • Puppies love to play hide and seek and this game will teach them to use their smell, hearing and hunting skills. If your puppy will sit and stay, you can get them to do so while you hide, or someone else can hold the puppy while you hide. Once hidden, call to the puppy to come. You can also hide a toy or treat for them to seek out.
    • Swimming is a great activity tor your puppy as it teaches confidence in the water and provides exercise with no danger of injuring developing joints. Take them to a pool or calm body of water i.e. nowhere with waves or a current. Use an approved life-vest for your puppy until they learn how to swim and are competent. Get in the water with them and if in a pool, teach them where to safely get in and out. Never leave ANY dog alone in water.
    • Your puppy will love to play fetch. Choose a light toy or ball (don’t use sticks as these can splinter and injure your puppy), throw it a short distance then encourage your puppy to bring it back to you. As time passes, the distance you throw the object should become larger.
    • Pupples enjoy tug-of-war but care needs to be taken when playing tugging games. Do not pull hard as you can hurt your puppy and stop if the game turns rough. 

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