Playing is so important for your best friend. Not only does it keep them young and energetic, but some dog toys have been developed to calm anxious dogs through concentration and focus, while others work their brains and stimulate learning and cognitive function. And don’t forget the joy you will experience playing with your dog and his or her toys in a fun and interactive way. When they tug and growl a little, and grab your arm with their little (or big) paws, your heart will be jumping with glee every time. Dogs like to have a job, they love learning and doing! So there are many fun dog activities you can undertake with your best friend.
There are so many amazing dog toys on the market and it all comes down to a few simple questions:
- What size is your dog? Choose toys that your dog can easily hold with his or her mouth. If you have a small dog, choose a soft toy and it definitely needs to be a squeaky toy! If you have a large dog choose something bigger, less easily destructible.
- Mental stimulation! Do you want your dog to be exercising those neural networks? Do you want him to think and learn? If so there are many toys in which you can hide food or treats, and they are designed such that your dog needs to use his or her brain to find a way to reach the reward. Puzzle feeder and Kong dog toys are a great example.
- Behavioural help! If your dog tends towards anxiety or boredom, a calming dog toy can be a great tool to relax your dog. For example, Kong dog toys make rubber shapes with a hollow centre, which you can fill with wet dog food or any meat paste. To get the tasty meat out of the toy your dog will be forced to continuously lick the toy, gently getting more and more from the centre. This has a very calming effect on dogs which reduces stress and anxiety. It also keeps your dog busy as they want to have the whole lot!
- Balls. Obvious I know, but balls which squeak come in all sizes, even small enough for Chihuahuas!
- Make playing with the toy an event! Entice your dog to play, let him or her go a bit wild! You can incorporate playing fetch with the toy giving your dog fun and exercise at the same time.
These are some of Chilli’s favourites!
There are so many fun games, walks, explorations and events you can share with your best friend. For example, dogs playing together is not only great for them but also for you. You get to meet new people, enjoy time with your friends whilst the dogs have their time together, and allow them to play like dogs. Do be conscious when mixing breeds in play – a tiny dog might get overwhelmed by a group of labradors playing a faster and rougher game. Mental stimulation for dogs is also very important. A bored, disengaged dog can easily show unwanted unruly behaviour such as excessive barking, chewing (pillows, clothes you name it) or urinating indoors. A fun game forces your dog to focus and concentrate.
Here are some fun dog friendly activities I think you and your pooch will love:
- Playing fetch with a dog. Yes, the old but never boring game of fetch – you can play on variations depending on what breed dog you have. You can play fetch with a tennis ball, a frisbee or a simple stick you find on the ground. Trust me, dogs just love to chase! And if your puppy doesn’t yet know the game, it will be fun for both of you in teaching a dog to fetch.
- Good places to walk your dog. Where you choose to walk your dog can be just as important as the walk itself. Depending on the breed and character of your pooch you need to consider things like: Is my dog safe to walk around bicycles? If there is a road nearby will my dog be ok off the lead or do I need to walk further away? Will my dog hunt wildlife? If there is a lake and there are baby ducks or geese, shall I avoid the area or put my dog on the lead. Will my big dog be ok with little dogs and vice versa? If my dog is not neutered, are there females on heat and is the space safe enough if my dog runs off following a scent? Chilli is great off the lead in large green spaces, however he does not understand the idea of traffic, so he would not automatically stop at a road. So when I walk him off lead I make sure I’m well away from roads and cyclists.
- Puppies playing. Don’t forget your puppies, they also love to play! And what better way for them to learn and have fun than for puppies to play together. Again be sensible with breed and temperament so that your puppy doesn’t get traumatised.
- Hiking with dogs. If you have a sporty, strong and agile dog, you will love to go into nature and explore together.
- Tug of war. An old but still fun game, especially for dogs that love to mouth and chew. You can even get tiny tug toys for Chihuahuas and other small dogs!
- Chewing. Dogs love to chew bones in groups. It entices them to chew, brings out the competitive spirit and it’s great for their teeth, gums and jaw strength. You can give real raw bones, hide bones or dental sticks, depending on what your dog is in the mood for.
- Meetup groups. There are many groups based on breeds which you can join via Facebook or MeetUp. They organise regular meetings in parks and green spaces which you can be invited to join. It’s a great way of meeting new people and for your dog to make new friends.
- Dog Training. Dogs love to learn and have a job! So teach them something fun. Have a look here!