One of the most enjoyable parts about being a pet owner is that you constantly have a companion! Dogs especially are playful creatures and generally love to be near their owners and accompany them in a variety of activities.
Why play is good for your dog
Playing with your pup provides a multitude of benefits for them and for you. Doing activities with your dog helps them learn better manners and how to communicate with you. Better behavior in your dog means less problems in the home, less destruction and naughtiness. In addition, the more your dog exercises the better their health will be, which is good for their comfort and good for your wallet because of less vet bills! Furthermore, the more active a dog is, the less bored they will be, which also leads to improved physical and mental health and behavior.
Why play is good for you
Playing with your pup not only benefits your dog, but you as well. The more time you spend getting to know your dog, the better able you will be to communicate your requests. Therefore, the more able you will be to discipline or train your dog and the better able you will be to understand your dog, especially if he or she is having a problem. Exercise is just as important for you as for your dog, and you will both get a mental boost by doing it together!
Many dog breeds love water, and make great swimming and play partners. You can start by swimming with your dog either in a pool, lake or river, or the ocean. If going to a lake or river make sure that the water is safe for dogs (and humans), because there may be harmful bacteria or creatures like leeches or poisonous snakes. Wherever you swim with your dog, be sure to wash them well afterwards because chlorine and salt water can be just as harmful to dog’s fur and skin as to a human’s.
In addition to swimming, there are lots of other water activities in which you can bring your dog along. If your dog is comfortable around water, you can take them kayaking with you. Just as you enjoy being outside and seeing new sights, so do dogs, although for them its the sights and smells they find so exciting. Dogs generally have great balance so you can also take them out on a surfboard or on a stand up paddle board. Your dog will have an absolute blast, and so will you, watching them scramble around on the board, trying to take in every bit of the experience that they can.
Your dog can accompany you on almost any outdoor activity, be it as simple as running errands to going on a trip together. The more time your dog spends accompanying you in both mundane and fun activities, the more bonded you will be and the more socialized they will be with people and other animals. From the basic activity of taking your dog on a walk, your dog can also galavant alongside you on a run, a bike ride, or on roller skates. You can take your dog camping or hiking which provides the twofold advantages of exercise for you both and new scenery and experiences for you both.
One of the most standard dog-owner activities is fetch, but this is not without good reason. Dogs will fetch anything: balls, sticks, frisbees, etc. Not all breeds are natural retrievers, but the time you take to teach your dog how is as important as the time you spend playing together. Fetch is good for obedience and listening, but it also helps your dog to practice impulse control.
Dog parks are a wonderful place to take your dog because they provide exercise and socialization with people and other dogs. Most towns and cities have multiple dog parks with a range of sizes. They may just be open, fenced-in fields or there could be a water element as well. Of course there are risks to dog parks, including potential dog fights or anxiety for a less social dog, but generally the benefits of a dog park outweigh the risks. Be aware of your dog and know that dog parks are not for all dogs. Generally bullies, un-neutered males, females in heat, and unvaccinated puppies should avoid dog parks.
Once you choose a park, playing with other dogs helps your dog to better communicate with other dogs and to read other’s body language and signals. Spending so much free time around other dogs will help prevent them from becoming aggressive or afraid around others. In addition, they get time to play and exercise freely with all kinds of other dogs.
Just as dogs get to make friends at dog parks, so too, can you as the owner. Dog parks are a great way to chat with other owners, and share experiences and tips to all become better caretakers for your pet.
Chances are that nearly any outdoor activity you enjoy, your dog will enjoy as well. It is worth spending time playing and socializing with your dog. It improves your relationship, provides exercise, and decreases problem behaviors. And most importantly, its fun!