Puppy training and play
Puppies need to play to develop and learn, mentally and physically. Playing with your puppy is so important: it helps create a strong bond between you, it exercises your puppy and keeps it happy and out of trouble. But play is not just all fun – everything that you do with your pup is teaching it the behaviour you expect.
Puppy play is also early training
Puppy play and training are the most important things for you to get right with your new puppy. An untrained dog can be a pest, a problem and even a danger. A well-trained dog that knows its position becomes a loved member of your family and a joy to take out for walks meeting other dogs and people.
Puppy toys, like toys for small children, must be chosen carefully. Avoid sharp edges and string or other items they can swallow:
Soft toys are always popular and can become special ‘take along’
comfort companions for some pets. Squeaky toys are also popular.
Balls are a puppy favourite and are good for interactive fetch games.
Rubber chew toys provide good chew-exercise for sharp puppy teeth.
- Treat balls provide entertainment for when you are at work. Puppy treats are placed inside and as the puppy plays the treats come out at unpredictable times – a great incentive to keep playing.
Variety and interest
Puppies get bored. They need a variety of different toys but it is important not to have these all out at once. Rotate the toys and watch your puppy’s enjoyment when it gets a toy it hasn’t seen for a few days. Save some toys (ones that need careful supervision) just for when you are playing with your pup, and put them away afterwards.
Mouthing and chewing
Many owners are concerned that their puppy chews and bites at their hands when playing. This is common puppy behaviour and usually subsides as it gets older but do follow our puppy play rules:
Encourage fetch and throw games. When the pup drops the toy say ‘Drop’ and give praise. You have started training!
Be careful with tug games – they are great exercise for many puppies but need to be started and stopped by the person to stop the puppy getting over-excited. Young children should not play tug games with puppies.
Keep play sessions upbeat and short. Puppies can get over-stimulated and over-tired.
Don’t use your hands to play – use a toy. If pup chews your hands, redirect it to the toy.
If the pup keeps chewing your hands, stop the play session: walk away or put the pup out of the room until it has calmed down.
Supervise young children playing a puppy. They can inadvertently teach a puppy to chew hands, jump up and other undesirable behaviour.
If children are too young to understand that the pup is a baby that needs to be trained, supervise them until the puppy is older.