Puppy training & development – Learning though play!

Here are five good reasons why teaching your puppy to play with toys and introducing regular play sessions throughout the day is important for a puppy’s well-being and development:
1. Builds a bond with humans
Learning how to play with your puppy might be a surprising thing to hear but dogs don’t come pre-programmed to play human games with toys. Those who learn from an early age how to play with humans, learn to see humans as a source of fun and worth being around.  Something that is excellent when in the park and wanting you dog to stay with you.  If you are to build a wonderful bond of affection with your dog, spending time having fun is fundamental.
2. Provides acceptable playbiting
Young puppies like soft toys that they can bite onto and having access to these kinds of toys will offer a good outlet for play biting. 
Play biting (or mouthing) is a completely natural behaviour that puppies need to be able to do but they also need to learn how to use their mouth appropriately with humans.
A puppy that has been used to mouthing their littermates has now to learn that this is no longer acceptable with human skin. It’s a difficult message to teach and toys play an essential role.
Spending time, each day, allowing puppies to interact with suitable toys and actively encouraging the transfer of biting onto them rather than skin or clothing is the first step.  The process will be speeded up when adding lots of praise just as the puppy’s mouth bites on the toy. Gradually, from daily use of toys and good guidance from humans, a puppy learns to control their mouth.
3. Uses up extra energy
Puppies are limited on the amount of exercise they can have yet physical and mental nourishment is essential, especially as your puppy grows.  Insufficient exercise can result in a bored, discontented puppy with more energy than he knows what to do with. Such excess of energy can be the cause of unwanted behaviours as the puppy finds alternative outlets for them.
Several play sessions given at various times throughout the day, can make a marked difference and result in a dog that is well-adjusted, contented and looking forward to the next time playtime.
4.  Channels natural instincts
Games are also an outlet for natural hunting instincts. Channeling this desire into acceptable behaviour can make a real positive impact on pet dogs that were designed to search, hunt or chase.  Something to think about whatever the breed you selected but especially if you have brought home a gundog, hound or terrier puppy.
Providing the right kind of toys and introducing ‘playtime’ (that is always fun) into a puppy’s daily routine will help them to have a lifelong love of playing with toys and interacting with humans.  This will pay dividends in all aspects of obedience training throughout their life.
5.         Gives fun rewards and lifelong pleasure
Once your puppy knows just how much fun games with toys can be you can use the toys themselves as a reward for training exercises, particularly recall. Having plenty of play will give a clear picture of the kind of games and toys your puppy likes most and this will teach you what you can use to motivate your puppy so they enjoy learning new exercises.  Withholding a favourite toy can give the toy a higher value, so it becomes more rewarding and it makes coming back to you even more exciting.
Working dogs know all about having a toy as a reward.  You’ve probably seen how they are often given a tennis ball or toy to play with after a successful find and this says ‘good job done!” and keeps them motivated to do their work again.
Pointers for successful playtime:
·      Have a mixed bag of toys with different materials and sounds.
·      Have two sets of toys – one for your dog and one for you.
·      Puppy’s toys:  Rotate your puppy’s toys each day so they are different and give 3 or 4 fresh toys daily.
·      Your toys:  Keep these in a safe place away from your puppy and bring them out for playtime sessions.     Afterwards, put them away out of your puppy’s reach. This keeps the toys exciting.
·      Have several 5-minute play sessions each day with young puppies.
·      Gradually increase these in length to 15 minutes and reduce to between 3 and 4 times each day.
·      Once your puppy has learned basic obedience commands, such as sit, down, stand, wait, etc, use the toy as a reward following a good response.
·      The best way to get a toy back from a puppy is to exchange with a tasty titbit so your puppy learns it is rewarding to give up something he has, even if it is a favourite toy.
·      Always keep play fun for you and your puppy.
Posted: 01/12/2013 17:14 | 0 comments

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