Zoey

Why dogs need playtime

In Play time, Shelley Widhalm, The importance of play on July 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

Zoey is ready for some play time as she hangs out with her toys.

Zoey is ready for some play time as she hangs out with her toys.

As a very cute miniature dachshund, I need to explain a little about the importance of playtime.

Dogs need to play to learn, exercise, maintain health and experience the world around them. Genetically predisposed to be flexible and adaptable, they like novelty in their play. New toys and variety in games help stimulate their brains and keep them mentally active.

Unlike humans, dogs don’t need to force themselves to exercise, which for us is play. We naturally run, which is one of our favorite things to do and we don’t need any motivation to do so. We run from scent to scent if you let us off leash in a dog park or backyard, or even on our walks.

In the wild, we have to be good runners to chase our prey or to avoid being such. Running hasn’t been bred out of us through domestication, so that’s why a daily walk isn’t enough.

Exercise and play allow us to expend our pent-up energy, while also relieving stress and providing a mental break, just as it does for humans. It helps keep us healthy, agile and limber and makes us sleepy by bedtime, instead of restless. I’ve read that dogs that don’t get regular exercise will chew, dig and act destructively to seek attention (not that I’ve ever done that, not at all).

Some good games to get us to run include playing fetch, find it, hide-and-seek, and keep away, a game where we dodge away from you as we hold a toy (or sock, which I like) in our mouths.

Mental exercises also burn off energy, such as food puzzle toys, agility courses, obedience and trick training, and chew toys.

I’ve read that we need 20 to 30 minutes of running every day as a minimum. Note that I need all hours that I am awake to be told that I’m cute. Thank you.

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