Dog Training 

Play buddies: learn how and why our dogs play

Play is the common language of all dogs. Regardless of size, age or breed, dogs like to play. But why do our dogs play? How do we tell the difference between play and fight? Are all gaming behaviors healthy? Knowing the answers to these lingering questions can help decipher the obvious science behind canine games.

Enhance motor skills and defense capabilities

According to a veterinary study conducted by the University of Edinburgh, playing helps puppies acquire important motor skills. Rolling, bouncing, jumping, biting, and shaking are all play behaviors that can enhance the puppy’s coordination, balance, and self-awareness. Puppies learn how hard it is to bite and how to communicate play behaviors with other dogs.

The fierce competition requires agility and agility. Dogs who have learned to play with other dogs since childhood will better straighten themselves when frightened or lose their balance. When playing, hormones (oxytocin and cortisol) are released in our dog’s brain. These hormones can help dogs navigate and control stress and happiness during the game. The more your dog manages these hormones, the better they are prepared for how to deal with real-life stress.

The basis of social relations

Although playing is certainly fun for our dogs, it can also help them establish a social hierarchy and strengthen the relationship between dogs and even between dogs and people. Show dominance and obedience in the competition, help determine the social status of the litter. For dogs, knowing when to become dominant and when to obey is a key part of social interaction and self-protection.

When dogs play with people, they prefer to play with people they know. Play between people and dogs “enhance the social cohesion between people and dogs, increase their familiarity, and reduce exciting interactions.” *Games help build cooperation between you and your pet relationship. By playing together, you and your dog will better understand each other’s body language and play style.

The difference between playing and fighting

Most dog-to-dog interactions culminate in some form of play. However, due to changes in circumstances, dogs will fight. There are some key body language indicators that can help you determine the difference between the progress of the game and the actual game.

Playing a bow, smiling with an open mouth, punching, bouncing, exaggerated growls, signs of submissive behaviors such as an exposed abdomen, and signs of repeated desire to resume playing are all positive signs of a healthy game. The generally relaxed manners and postures indicate that your dog will not feel pressure or fear around another dog and that the games they are engaged in are both fun and interesting.

Potential signs of aggression include stiff body, raised head, fixed ears, low warning growl, and curled lips. Like humans, not all dogs can get along, that’s okay! Provide dogs with opportunities to meet in a neutral place (such as a beach or park, rather than someone’s home), which may have a positive impact on potential negative encounters. Always remember that dogs can feel our energy through a leash. If you treat a situation tentatively or fearfully, your dog may imitate this behavior. If you have the opportunity to put down the leash and let the dog meet on their own terms, you can completely avoid any aggressive behavior.

If a fight does occur, do not reach out your hands or any part of your body between the fighting dogs, as you may be accidentally bitten. If left unchecked, most dogfighting games will start and end quickly. If you must intervene, try to make a loud noise to distract the dog or do something shocking, such as spraying them with a hose.

Final thoughts

Games are an essential part of the development of puppies and adult dogs. Play can develop motor skills, promote healthy social interaction, prepare puppies for unexpected situations, and strengthen contact with the dog. To help your dog have a positive gaming experience, let them meet new canine friends frequently and neutrally. Make sure not to project your emotions on the dog. Let the puppy play begin!

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