We always knew how much our dogs love to play, but a study conducted at Bristol University has shown that play is absolutely essential to our dogs’ mental health.
So what happens when a dog doesn’t get enough play? According to the study, dogs that don’t have enough fun in their lives begin to exhibit behavioural problems such as anxiety and aggression.
Other problems included a tendency to jump up, not come when called or incessant whining. In fact, the study linked no less than 22 behavioural problems to a lack of play. A documentary based on the study was aired on the program ‘Dogs: their Secret Lives’.
Play can help to correct behavioural problems
If you suspect that your dog is getting cranky due to a lack of play, there’s good news. You can reverse the damage by introducing more play into your dog’s life.
But how much play will satisfy your dog’s needs? The study found that dogs whose owners played with their dos six times a day had the least problems with doggie misbehaviour.
Give your pet a workout
And of course, play also gives your dog some much-needed exercise – it’s not only humans that are inclined to obesity owing to sedentary modern lifestyles.
If your dog is overweight, he or she is likely to have a shorter life-expectancy – and every dog owner wants to prolong the time they can enjoy with their pet as much as possible. Play is a great way to do that.
It’s good for you too
I’ve never seen a pet owner who isn’t wearing a wide grin at doggie playtime. It’s not only the dog who gets to have fun. People are naturally playful, and playing with your dog will not only get you moving, it will reduce your stress.
There’s just one problem
Playing six times a day simply isn’t possible for most of us. We have to go to work, and we may be out for most of the day. It’s easy enough to fit in a game in the morning and one in the evening, but six games a day?
Luckily, you can provide entertainment for your pooch with the Foobler. Most dog toys don’t provide any real form of interaction, and unless you’re there to play along, your dog loses interest.
But the Foobler provides an interaction that every dog will think worthwhile: it provides treats at pre-set intervals.
While there are doggie feeders that will do that too, they don’t have the advantage of movement, but your dog can roll the Foobler around. He thinks that he treat arrives because he’s been playing with the toy, so he won’t lose interest in it.
If you have room in your life for a second dog, your pet will also have a playmate – but be sure that you know what you are letting yourself in for. More dogs equals more responsibility!
Favourite doggie games
According to experts ‘fetch’ is the number one game your dog loves to play. They also love a good chase game, and they may even slow down a bit at times just to make it more interesting for you.
Be as courteous when playing a game of tug. Contrary to popular belief, letting your dog win at a game of tug won’t make him uppity, it just keeps the game interesting.
In terms of toys, balls are a favourite followed by squeaky toys. Rope toys are considered to be a third-place favourite – but only when you’re at the other end of the rope!
Playtime is so rewarding that dogs try to make it last
Do you remember asking your mum for five minutes’ more playtime when you were a kid? Dogs are like that too.
When ‘fetch’ games make them breathless, they may hang onto the ball and come to you for a little attention – just until they get their breath back.
In games of tug, they’ll let you gain a bit of ground so that you won’t get discouraged. The longer you play, the happier they are.
When dogs play with each other, the stronger dog will often give himself some sort of handicap. For instance, my shepherd lies down in order to play with his little friend, a Maltese Poodle, and will often let him ‘win’.
Dogs need to play
Just feeding a dog and taking him for walks isn’t enough to fulfil his needs. Play is important too. It provides physical exercise and mental stimulation. So let the games begin! You’ll enjoy it too.
Peter and the Team at Foobler