Play is an important part of the puppy’s life. Not only does it provide physical exercise for him but it can also be used as a training aid. When you play with your puppy you increase your bond with him and since you are the one setting the rules, it enhances your role as his leader.
Benefits of Playtime
Proper amounts of physical exercise is critical throughout the dog’s entire life. It minimizes behavioral problems by reducing high levels of energy and at the same time alleviates boredom.
A structured exercise program can also calm an excitable puppy because it allows him to burn off his energy in a constructive way. As a result, the puppy will be more content and restful during other times of the day.
Obesity is a problem with domestic dogs and has been linked to a shortened life span. Along with a high quality diet, a good exercise program can help to keep the puppy in top physical shape as he grows.
Proper Play for Your Puppy
Try to have at least two 30-45 minute exercise sessions per day. Good forms of exercise include long w alks, hikes and games. Do not jog with the puppy on pavement or for long distances before he is ten months old. The jarring can cause bone and joint problems. If the puppy shows any sign of limping or physical pain, stop the exercise until the problem is resolved.
Be sure that you and not your puppy decides when a game should start or end. For example, if he drops a ball in your lap, do not begin a game of fetch. Instead wait for a time that is convenient for you and then encourage the puppy to play.
Do not rough house with the puppy or engage in any type of play that encourages him to growl, nip, jump or be “mouthy.” Also, do not play tug of war with the puppy until he is at least 12 months old. Although these behaviors can be cute when he is young, you are instilling bad habits that will be difficult to get rid of later.
Most people play “chase” with their puppy. It can be fun to chase your puppy around the house or yard but you are teaching him that he is quicker then you are and that you will always come to him. This will make it more difficult to teach him “come” when he gets older. Instead, have your puppy chase YOU! Move or run away from him, using a lure and lots of praise and encouragement to get him to follow you. As the puppy learns to enjoy this game and play by your rules, you are also laying the foundation for a well behaved dog in the future.
Do not worry about practicing commands during play time. Just have fun!