Why is Play Important for My Dog?

Written by Lucy Marcham, Academy Trainer

Why is play important?

Playing with your furry friend is a vital part of pet ownership. Playtime provides many positive benefits:

• Mental and physical exercise! Playing is a fantastic way to tire your animal out and keep them fit and healthy.

• Bonding! Playing will bring you and your pet closer together, plus it’s a fun activity to enjoy together.

• Learning! Games and playing are great to teach your pet things such as impulse control and finding objects. For many dogs finding an exciting toy is an incredible reward.


What types of toys are there?

There are a variety of different toys to choose from. 

Some are designed for dogs to play with by themselves, while some are made to be played with the owner. Having a range of toys is the best way of giving your pet variety, they will all have a favourite but encourage them to play with a variety for greater enrichment. If your dog or cat gets bored of toys, rotate them to keep them more interesting to them.

Solitary toys – These are designed to be played with on their own, however, they should always be supervised with removed if small pieces start to come away.

Interactive toys – These are designed to make your pet use their brain to solve puzzles.

Social Play – Playing with your dog and the opportunity for your dog to play with others.


How do I pick the right toy?

Picking the right toy depends on what you want from playtime, it is also important to understand your dog’s play style.


Ideal for fetch games and working on your dog’s impulse control, any ball you use needs to be big enough, so it isn’t a choking hazard. Some dogs are extremely excited  and obsessive around balls, so keep them stored away until you want to play.  There are other options for retrieval games including Frisbees, batons and dummy toys.

Squeaky toys

These vary in toughness depending on what they are made from, but these are perfect to replicate prey items and get dogs excited about play. Often very handy reward toys for recall training.

Rope Toys

An extremely versatile toy! Good quality rope toys make great chew toys for puppies when they are teething and help keep adults’ teeth clean. Rope can also be useful as a retrieval toy and brilliant as a recall reward. Remember if your dog is pulling a large amount of rope off it should be removed.

Floating Toys

Ideal in the summer months to help keep pets cool while playing.

Treat Toys

Stimulating treat toys are one of the best ways of mentally stimulating dogs. However, it is important to make sure the toy is not too hard for your dog’s ability level. Always start easy and increase the difficulty as the dog understands the game. Remember to supervise and remove toys if you think they are not suitable for your dog.


Why does my dog destroy soft toys?

 Soft toys are loved by most dogs. Some dogs may carry their soft toys around, however, many will do what comes naturally, and treat their new toy like prey to be ripped apart.

Remember all toys tap into our dog’s natural urges and instincts, so soft toys to a dog replicates prey! This means they are designed to be destroyed and killed. In fact, your dog will get endorphins (feel-good hormones)  from “killing” their prey.

Each part of the soft toy is made with this in mind:

• Crinkle parts? That is the bones snapping!

• Squeaker? That is the sound of the prey squealing!

• Stuffing? That is the dog killing the toy!

• Different textures? That is replicating fur and feather!

Although this can sound a bit horrible, this is what our dogs love to do, and they will have a lovely time doing it.