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09 Mar PitPat’s guide to play

Most of us know the importance of giving our dog regular exercise to keep them fit and healthy, but have you ever stopped to consider the importance of playtime for your dog?

Play performs a vital role in doggy development helping to hone their physical and emotional skills as well as being a fun activity for both of you.  This is why PitPat tracks play  as well as walking and running and which all contribute to their daily exercise goal so you can make sure you are always getting the balance just right.

Play is also key to helping our pups learn more about the world around them.  But what if that world is a large open space with multiple dogs – how can we be sure all interactions will be positive ones?  The key is to learn to recognise play behaviours, and here are some tips from our play expert Emily Blackwell to get you started…

How can you recognise play?

Play often consists of bouncy, repetitive, exaggerated movements, all of which will only happen when your dog is relaxed.  It can also involve aspects of predatory behaviour, such as pulling apart that brand new stuffed toy you bought them. But that’s nothing to worry about, it’s all part of the play process.

What is ‘safe’ play?

Dogs are expert communicators, and they have a range of special signals that tell other dogs ‘I’m ready to play’:

The play bow

This is where they lower their front end down to the ground and raise their rear end up into the air.

Role reversal

This is where during a game the roles are continually reversed, so the chaser becomes chased and they are regularly changing positions, so the dog that is on top rolls over and let’s the other dog stand over them and vice versa.

Self-handicapping

This is where a bigger, stronger and faster dog will actually inhibit itself, so that a smaller, weaker or slower dog can win sometimes; by catching them or knocking them over.  This means it is fun for both of them and prolongs the play.

When should I intervene?

It’s always nice when our dogs make friends, but if at any point you’re not sure if your dog’s actually having fun, just separate the dogs and see how keen they both are to get back to the game. The key to safe play is that both individuals are enjoying themselves.

If you would like more insights into your dog’s world then download the free PitPat app and start tracking their exercise, play and progress today.

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