The Importance of Play

Since we were kids, play time has been the most highly sought-after time of the day. But in today’s society we often find ourselves overwhelmed with bills, work, chores, and the stresses of everyday life. Rarely do we find ourselves in fits of laughter and enjoyment but instead are weighed down heavily by the burdens of life. Well, just as you have been too busy to enjoy all the little things, your dog may be in the same boat with you. Many of our pets rely on us for their happiness and nothing makes our little furry friends happier than play time with you. If you have been feeling down or stressed, you may be in need for a little play time yourself. In fact, play time may have more benefits for both you and your loved one than you could possibly imagine. Many key benefits include improved Physical and Mental Health for your pet, better Social Skills, stronger Bonding between owner and pet, and overall improved Owner Health.

So how exactly does play improve your dogs physical and mental health? Well, just as humans benefit from cardiovascular exercise and weight training, canines do as well. An article written by Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM talks about how several medical illnesses are becoming more prevalent amongst canines such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. The complete article can be found here (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/healthy-exercise-for-dogs). Regular exercise can greatly benefit your pets and can add several happy years to their lives. Daily activity will help combat many of these illnesses and keep your dog’s joints and bones healthy. Of course, a regular exercise routine must be tailored to your dog specifically and you should always consult with your normal vet if you have any questions. Healthy years are happy years.

Mental fitness is just as important so keep your dog sharp as well as physically fit. Playing several different games with your dog will actually help to keep his mind sharp and alert. Different breeds possess different skills inherent to the breed so be sure to capitalize on their strengths and slowly improve on their weaknesses. This will also help build up your pooches’ confidence. Another great play time idea is to let your dog express his or her natural desires. Incorporating a dog’s natural instincts into play time will help reduce both aggressiveness and predatory behaviors. You can read an excerpt from a great article about this subject here (https://www.scottsdalepethotel.com/importance-playtime-dogs/). Skills like digging, running, jumping, and searching are a few skills that can get your canine fully engaged in play time. Activities such as these help to stimulate your dog mentally. Mental stimulation is the best remedy for cognitive deterioration and impaired mental function; important especially for older dogs. This type of play may also help improve your dog’s comprehension of new commands and tricks. So be sure to introduce your young pup to this type of stimulation at a young age.

A key benefit of play time, and in my opinion the most important, is the bond development between you and your pet. As with any relationship, time spent together is what determines the strength of a bond or relationship. Let that time spent together be enjoyable and fun-filled. Play time with your loved one will bring your canine closer to you and in time will develop a strong healthy relationship between the two of you. Eliminate bad behaviors, allow your pet to trust and adore you, and give your fur baby the confidence of a lifetime. Dogs too can suffer from depression, anxiety, and lonesomeness. Especially if your work schedule allows little free time or if your work takes you other places for extended periods of time. This in turn can lead to bad behavior and hardheadedness in your pet. Spending a little play time regularly will help reduce the development of these behaviors and your dog will see you in a different light. An article on Puppy Leaks highlights a study conducted on the benefits of play time. You can read more on the Puppy Leaks website (https://www.puppyleaks.com/play-for-dogs/). By expending pent up energy, your dog will be less likely to display destructive behaviors and more likely to heed your commands. Simply because your playful pooch doesn’t have the energy to resist after a hard day at play.

Play time, however, isn’t strictly for your dog or pet. The energy expended and the time spent with your best friend will also benefit you in the long run. General happiness and time spent outdoors will help promote a healthier lifestyle for pet owners as well. Many owners will tell you how they have benefited from play time and that a few minutes every day can make all the difference in battling illnesses that come along with aging. Many of the conditions stagnant pets become affected by are similar to medical conditions that sedentary humans suffer from. Play time can help you kill 2 birds with 1 stone, so to speak. Overall improved health is just one of the many benefits talked about in this blog, but at the same time also the most important.

As you can see, the importance of play time could not be overstated. It can be hard to find the time or energy after a long day at work but trust me the effort will be well rewarded. If it helps, try to outline or block out a time and day to spend outdoors with your pet. If you can try and make it the same time and day (or couple of days) every week. Get into a habit of playing with your pets and before you know it will become second nature. And over time you will begin to see the benefits. Don’t let your dog fall into disappointment and depression. Show the same love that your dog shows to you. Give your fur baby the playtime of a lifetime!