Getting play time right from day one is so important to ensure your dog starts their life with a balanced temperament and learns to play correctly.
In the wild a dogs mum would be the one to teach their dog the boundaries of play as well as the other pack members. You are now this dogs pack so you have to set boundaries too.
Depending on the type and breed of dog you will encounter different types of play, for example: Northern breed dogs (Huskies, Malamutes, Akita's, etc.) tend to play a bit more rough than some other breeds. It's nothing to be worried about but it can be a bit scary to watch for the first time!
You have to remember that play is actually a form of communication that dogs use between each other. It helps them develop certain skills such as fighting and defending as well as establishing their position in the pack at an early age.
There are a few things that you need to keep in mind when setting out on this little journey of playtime:
- When at play you are setting the foundations for training exercises later on in their lives
- You will help develop their 'prey' instincts by using toys
- You need to establish how rough you will let your dog play with you
- How you will keep your dogs attention and focus
- Your new pup needs to work out their jaw and bite strength
- Most importantly you dog needs to learn that play time with you is fun
This is really a game between the dog and the toy/ball/stick that they are chasing, the human element is just the energy behind the throw! A great way to get a better interaction here is to teach the puppy to bring back the object then interact with you in a certain way, perhaps put a paw on your leg.
This is dead easy. Get some tasty treats like fish bites or sprats and make your puppy chase you! Later on your can build on this with the sit/stay/lay commands.
The most important point to note is don't go over the top with tug when they are young and haven't changed their teeth. Try to avoid rope toys with plastic on to begin with and focus on a simple knotted rope.