Proper Puppy Play

| May 6, 2022

Playing with your puppy stimulates their brain, encourages physical activity, and strengthens the bond between you and your dog. It’s also an important part of dog training. When you play with your puppy, you and your puppy learn how to communicate with each other.  

Here are some do’s and don’ts that will make puppy playtime a positive experience for all! 

Do offer rewards 

What we call positive reinforcement—helping your pet associate an action with a positive outcome is important not only in relationship building but also in reinforcing appropriate behaviours, such as coming when called, walking politely on a leash, and sitting or lying down politely instead of jumping up. 

Don’t be the toy

Don’t allow your pup to grab your hands or your body parts. Teach your puppy that play ends at the very moment they make inappropriate contact—no matter how hard the contact was or if it was an accident. This teaches your dog to avoid using their teeth in order to be allowed to keep playing. Make sure they know you are off limits. When ending inappropriate play that involves biting, simply redirect the puppy’s attention to biting on a toy. If he continues to try and bite your hands, get up and walk away. 

Do pay attention

Choose to engage your dog in play time when they are active and full of energy.Keep them interested and engaged — playtime should always be fun! 

Do not allow “inappropriate initiation”

By this we mean jumping on you or on your lap, or “demanding” play with a bark. It’s cute, it’s endearing, it’s wholesome—we know. But if you give into this behaviour and play with them, they will see the cause and effect. In other words, it will become a habit. 

Do be inventive

The same way humans need a new show to binge watch, animals need new games to stay engaged. Keep your puppy engaged by changing up the play and rewards. Think outside the box. They’ll love you for it! 

Do be consistent

Make sure your puppy understands that if you end playtime, then it is the end of playtime. Remove yourself or their toy from the equation. 

Do keep games short

The longer you play the more excited your puppy will get. The more excited they are, the less control they have. Follow playtime with a cooling off period. When your puppy is calm, let the games begin once more! The more self-control your dog learns, the longer you can play! 

Interested in learning more?

Toronto Humane Society offers two training courses designed for puppies. Our Puppy Manners class focuses on puppy manners and common challenges new puppy parents experience. You will also learn how to teach your puppy basic training exercises and work through issues such as crate training, house soiling, and more. 

Our Puppy Socialization class focuses on socializing your puppy by guiding you through how to provide new experiences to create a healthy and happy puppy ready to take on the world. You will learn how to positively condition your puppy to husbandry care, equipment and other experiences or items encountered in everyday life, and when and how to socialize your puppy with dogs and people. 

Both 4-week classes are $220.