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Dogs are intelligent creatures that need regular mental and physical stimulation. Younger puppies in particular have a lot of energy and so need exercise to keep fit and to offset boredom. Playing with your pet can not only keep them healthy, but it can help you to establish a strong bond. During playtime, there is a massive opportunity to find fun ways to train your dog, teach them good behaviour and to assert your position as the ‘leader’.
Throwing a toy for your dog to fetch is a long-standing favourite with pet owners. It is best played in a large open space, such as a park, where your dog has the freedom to run and stretch their legs (depending on how strong your throwing ability is!). Avoid throwing sticks as these can damage your dog’s mouth and there is a risk that parts could break and be swallowed. Instead, use toys that are the correct size for your dog’s mouth- if it’s too big they’ll struggle to carry it or injure themselves. Ensure you have dog insurance to cover your pet’s care, in case of such incidents. When played effectively, playing fetch can improve your dog’s focus and obedience, especially if you make them sit and ‘stay’ before throwing the toy.
Hide and seek
Whether you hide a treat and send them on a mission to retrieve it, or hide from them yourself, this game is great fun for your canine friend. It utilises their sense of smell and hunting skills and improves their levels of obedience. If you are hiding yourself, call your dog’s name every few seconds so they can hunt you down by the sound of your voice. If the game goes on too long, make it more obvious to them and wait to be found. After the hype of searching, you can guarantee they’ll be pleased to see you!
Tug of war
This game can be played between two dogs or with yourself and your dog. It’s important to show that you’re in control, so you don’t lose authority. Ensure you teach a command such as ‘let go’ before the game begins. This way, if things get out of hand, you can stop the game immediately. This game can be a great way of using up some of your dog’s energy, but they can get over-excited so it’s important to teach them the rules. If your dog becomes aggressive or catches your hand with their teeth, you should stop the game and return to it when they have calmed down.
Tricks and obedience training
Every dog needs to have a certain level of obedience training to ensure they don’t run riot in the home. It is also important to teach them commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘come’ for when they are in the outside world and could face the danger of roads, etc. Obedience and tricks are best learnt when your dog is young. The key to this is repetition and using treats to immediately reward them for obeying a command. Try teaching your dog tricks such as rolling over and fetching the newspaper from the letterbox – helpful for you and fun for your furry friend!
Dogs that love swimming will generally enjoy playing with a hose pipe in the garden. Be careful not to spray them in the face as this can be quite distressing for dogs. Also, don’t allow them to get aggressive and jump at or attack the hose. Instead, stand back and ensure there is a big enough space ahead of you to spray the water and watch them try to run through the water and catch it in their mouth. This is particularly fun in the summer when it can help cool them off at the same time.
Co-operative Insurance can help to protect your dog’s welfare. With flexible pet insurance to suit your needs, there is an affordable option for everyone.