Puppy Playtime - Fun and Enriching Activities for Your Pup
Puppy play is an integral part of your puppy’s critical socialization period. During puppy play, it’s OK for puppies to pounce, wrestle, pin, mouth, and chase each other — but they should also be appropriately matched in size.
Keeping your pup’s mind busy with enrichment toys prevents them from turning their restlessness into destructive chewing, like on your shoes or the lid of the trashcan.
Puppies like Cavapoo puppies near me need plenty of chew toys to help with those itchy teeth. Encouraging chewing on toys rather than nipping furniture or shoestrings helps your pup wear out those tiny little muscles. KONGs and hollow sterilized bones are good choices for puppies.
When choosing toys, be sure they are the correct size. Small toys can be choking hazards for puppies. Also, rope toys that fray easily can cause harm if puppies swallow long strands that can become entangled in their digestive tracts. Distraction toys filled with treats and frozen offer enrichment over many hours.
Many puppy owners find that interactive toys help with behavioral issues such as boredom and excessive chewing. They can also be beneficial for puppies with anxiety and other health issues.
As pet parents, we know puppies have a lot of energy and can quickly become bored and destructive. Interactive toys allow them to explore and satisfy their curiosity without engaging in dangerous or harmful behaviors. These include treat dispensing plush and puzzle toys and hide-and-seek games. These toys entice pups to work and solve puzzles for rewards.
Puppies love to chew and forage, so oral enrichment tasks satisfy their instincts (and prevent many chewed-up socks, shoes, and remotes down the line). Try stuffing a Kong with foods they love.
Keep things interesting by adding wet and dry food layers to the Kong. You can also use it to train foraging skills by hiding scent-rich rewards around the house. This can be an excellent activity for more timid puppies. It can be combined with sniff detection and snuffle mat training to entertain your pup.
Treat dispensing toys can help with obedience training and encourage your dog’s natural hunting and foraging instincts. They also make mealtime more fun for puppies.
Just supervise your puppy while playing with food-dispensing toys, especially if they are an extreme chewer or large breed. It’s also essential to ensure your puppy’s toys are appropriately sized to avoid choking hazards.
For example, a kibble nibble is small enough for puppies but can be filled with larger treats to increase the challenge. There are bouncy or wobbling puzzle toys for dogs who love movement.
Treat dispensing toys as fun ways to engage your dog’s mind and forage instinct. This West Paw cylinder-shaped toy has tabs your dog can use to search for treats, and it even floats for water play!
You can also try a simple DIY version of this game with plastic cereal bowls or juice cups. You can line them up and hide treats under one, then switch up the stacks and move the cups around for added challenge. You can also use a towel to hide treats and ask your dog which hand to open (just be sure to monitor their safety play).
Puppy tug is a great way to burn off energy, mentally stimulate your pup, and strengthen the bond between you. Tug can also help train impulse control and teach a puppy to play safely.
If your dog’s teeth ever come in contact with your hand during a tug game, stop playing immediately and use the cue “drop it.” Over time, your puppy will learn they can only grab the toy when you say it’s OK. Some puppies are not natural tug players and may need some encouragement to join in.
Sticks and wood can be dangerous for puppies as they splinter and jam in the mouth or cause intestinal blockage if chewed. The Playology Chewing Stick is a safe alternative to sticks and bones for puppies that provides dental stimulation while cleaning and massaging the gums.
Picking up and carrying sticks is another way puppies fulfill their evolutionary hunting and gathering instincts and excites the senses that help them explore their world. Long-term chews like bully sticks also support teething by easing the discomfort puppies experience when their new adult teeth push through the gums.
Playing Frisbees with your pup can be a great way to get them to engage in some physical exercise. It also helps them become socialized and learn to follow commands.
Choosing a frisbee designed for dogs and made of materials that can withstand repeated use is essential. You’ll also want to ensure your dog is physically fit and not suffering from hip problems before throwing frisbee around.
Start by rolling the disc across the floor and encourage your pup to chase it. Reward good behavior with treats.
Discs are an excellent way for pups to release pent-up energy, and they can also improve agility. Just be sure to supervise pups during this activity to avoid overexertion.
Start by encouraging your pup to touch the frisbee with treats and praise. Encourage them to run and catch it in the air, using verbal commands like “catch” and “fetch.”
Avoid overtraining your pup and ensure they are healthy for this type of play. If they are jumping for the frisbee, it could lead to a growth plate injury.
Hide and Seek
Playing hide and seek helps your pup use their brain, which gives them a good workout and provides mental stimulation. It also builds a strong bond with you and is a great activity to play on walks when your dog gets their energy out by sniffing the beach!
Start with a simple game like hiding behind a towel, then increase the challenge. You can also use a busy box, such as a laundry basket filled with shredded newspaper or a snuffle mat. Oral enrichment activities satisfy your dog’s instinctual mouth-related behaviors, which can get them into trouble without the proper training.