I love puppies. Who doesn't love puppies? In fact, one of my newest clients is a puppy named Captain. I get to take care of him 3 days a week. As the Owner of Snaggle Foot Dog Walks and Pet Care - Round Lake, it is always a pleasure when we get puppies as clients.
Puppies are fun but they can be a handful to new owners. They require constant supervision and stimulation to keep them busy and out of trouble so making sure you give them lots of playtime is important.
The fun part about puppies is they LOVE to play and playing is actually a very important part of raising a puppy! Learning "how" to play teaches puppies how to interact with human beings. This, in turn, will help them grow up to be "good" doggies.
As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to raise your puppy into a great doggie, so here are 5 great games you can play with your puppy:
- Walking: Taking a walk around your neighborhood or park is a great activity for young dogs. Make each walk a game by giving your puppy a chance to jump, balance along curbs, and smell flowers as he finds them. Just be sure to keep close. Also, bear in mind that running should only be done on the puppy's terms. It’s not safe to go jogging with your puppy until his joints are fully mature. Keep the walks short, about five minutes for each month of age (i.e. about 15 minutes for a 3-month-old puppy.)
- Hide and Seek: Who doesn’t love a game of hide and seek? I used to play this game with my dog Sebastian when he was a puppy. Games like these are great exercise and provide a wonderful outlet for honing your hound’s hunting skills. Start the game by having a friend hold your dog while you go and hide. Then, say his name every few seconds until he finds you. A great way to reinforce training is to command him to "come" while he is searching. Another fun game for around the house is to have your dog hunt for a toy or treat. Most dogs love this game just as much as hide-and-seek, however, puppies can become so excited that they bark, bite, or otherwise behave badly if they become frustrated by the hunt, so be sure to let them win sometimes.
- Fetch: I personally love playing fetch with my dog, however, I do most of the fetching. LOL! Paying active games like fetch teaches a puppy to focus and follow instructions. If your pet has never played before, just start tossing a fetch toy and demonstrate how to chase after and retrieve it. He will figure it out in no time. However, there are some important do's and dont's for playing with a puppy. For starters, you’ll need an appropriate fetch object such as a small toy or soft doll. It needs to be light enough so that your puppy can retrieve it easily. Please try and avoid sticks if possible. They can hurt a puppy's mouth and there is always the possibility of him eating pieces of the stick. Also, be careful not to overwork your pet. A good rule of thumb is to take a rest after each 10-minute play session.
- Tricks: Perhaps the best active game for young dogs is simply learning tricks. This is a great way to combine exercise with the discipline your pet will need for a healthy and happy life. Start off with teaching basic training commands like "sit", "stay" and "come" outside or in a room large enough to allow him to practice. These skills not only teach your dog to focus; they will be critically important to his safety when you bring him out into the world. Performing tricks is a mental and physical workout for your pet. A good rule of thumb is to spend only about 10 minutes at a time on each trick session, and then come back to it after a short break -- dogs learn best when trained early and often. Also, be sure to reward your puppy with plenty of treats, love and affection for performing well. Tricks and training are important for developing doggie discipline, but they also should provide an opportunity for bonding between you and your puppy.
- Water Play: Most dogs love water, and water-based games are great for growing puppies. Swimming and water play also provide a great low-impact workout that won’t put stress on a puppy's developing joints. Introducing water to your pet early also makes it more likely that he’ll be confident around water throughout his life. Even if your dog takes to water like a duck, it’s a good idea to use a pet-appropriate life vest until he’s proved himself to be a strong swimmer. If he’s never been in water before, you should also avoid strong tides. Instead, try a calm lake or swimming pool where you can get into the water with your dog. Bring plenty of his favorite fetch toys -- preferably ones that float -- and let the good times begin.
- A word of caution: If you have a dog that doesn't like the water, don’t force the issue. Anxiety can quickly lead to panic, which can lead to tragedy in a watery environment. Also, give your pet a rest every 10 minutes or so. Puppies will become tired quickly when swimming, especially in an ocean or fast-moving river.