The importance of play
For our canine friends play is a very important part of their daily activity and as well as providing physical exercise it also offers essential social interaction with both owners and other dogs.
After the enthusiasm of puppy hood the dog often settles into a routine but regular interaction through toys and daily exercise are essential if you are to get the most out of the relationship with your mature dog.
Selecting appropriate games will depend to some extent on your puppy but all play needs to be controlled to some extent and you need to ensure that it is a calm but rewarding activity for both you and your pet. Intense physical play which induces high levels of arousal and frustration in your puppy should be avoided and if young children are going to play with your puppy you must ensure that they do so under adult supervision.
Obviously your puppy’s breed will be important in determining the sorts of games that he will enjoy and you do have to develop realistic expectations. An underlying knowledge of the functional basis of dog breeds can be very useful in avoiding miscommunication.
For example many owners have an idyllic image of playing with their dog and standing for hours throwing balls for it to retrieve but expecting a setter breed to offer such behaviour may lead to disappointment. In contrast owners of the retriever breeds may need to invest in some balls on a rope in order to be able to throw the toy far enough!
Shake and kill games can be encouraged by the provision of squeaky toys and some of the terrier breeds will put a great deal of time and energy into this form of play. Involving humans in the process through tug of war interaction is generally discouraged but the important message is that play with your dog should be calm, controlled and above all fun.
Lessons to learn The most important thing to remember when you are training your puppy is that your relationship needs to be based on trust and consistency. The use of punishment and physical force will not achieve these aims and training therefore needs to be based on the use of reward and encouragement.
It is important for every member of the family to use the same approach to training your puppy and you should have a family meeting to decide on the commands that you are going to use and the house rules that you are going to establish. Puppies need clear boundaries and inconsistency is probably the most common cause of problems in the pet owner relationship. If you do not offer reliable leadership your puppy will be anxious and confused and many behavioural problems, including aggression, are caused by these negative and conflicting emotions.