Dog Training & Behaviour

Essentials to Know of a Dog Play

Game is everything when it comes to keeping your dog happy and this is the most essential part!

Playing to dogs represent those special moments of time when they absolutely forget everything as they physically and mentally engage with people, other dogs, objects, and toys.

However, speaking about the phenomenon of play between dogs and humans, this has an amusing intellectual history. Another true fact is that dogs love playing same as people do! As dogs are into the game, they take a break from everything, totally enjoying their physical movements and interactions with others while releasing their needless energy and feeding their natural instinct to play.

As we put our focus on the drive that makes people enjoy playing with dog, there are few who believe that reason why people are motivated to play with nonhumans such as the dog is that they want to feel uncontrolled, free, and ungovernable – while they put their own control over something.

Nonetheless, whatever the motivation is, an unquestionable thing is that both interacting parts, speaking of dogs and humans, are victors in a play, as they equally enjoy what is best for their body and mind wellbeing.  This for the fact that playing it is an important source of relaxation and stimulation, helping on stress relief, improving brain function, turning mind into more creative and imaginative, and by largely improving social aspects of humans and dogs.

As dogs love playing, it is wonderful the way dogs can actually pretend being aggressive, panicky, and uninviting at times, just to become perfect players of their part in the game.

Nevertheless, everyone wants to know how dog at play functions and what are the important things we really need to know about dog play and where is the limit of it?

Following we will introduce with some basics of dog play you absolutely need to know it.

Why Dogs Play

Dogs play to boost their emotional flexibility


“Play” is the word used for any action that it does not serve to any clear objective or no clear role or as a purposeless action. So, even that different theories on why dogs play were offered, there is yet no specific reason confirmed on why dogs get delighted doing this repetitive type of activity called play.

Even that, there are some research based comparative data indicating that play is an important activity for the development of social, physical, and learning aspect of dogs. Some other data show that animals and outgoing species are prone to boost their emotional flexibility to stress as it decreases the level of aggressiveness. On the other hand, said simply (as a neurological study suggests) the reason why dogs play is simply that it feels good to them, as it drives pleasure.

Types of Dog Play

Dogs bark when they want to play


To understand when a dog is ready to play reading his body language is essential, as through it dog provides you all the needed indications through special body gestures. The “play bow” is a common posture used by dogs to show their readiness to play. Typically, when a dog is in play mode or “play bow”, he goes down on his elbows with his tail elevated and shaking, while keeping his backend high, ears raised and mouth open. Barking can also take place when the dog wants to invite another one in the game, while withdrawing or approaching the one he is playing, accompanied with a lot of jumping and moving down.

Social Play or “Play Fighting”

Dogs might get overexcited when they play


Social behavior on dog’s a suggestion of the dog for play by interacting with the others, typically with other dogs or “fighting pals”. When dogs are in the mode to get involved in a social play, they typically have excessive and insistent movements, curved bodies, lateral movements, open mouth, and a moving tail from side to side.

When dogs take turns being on top, by involving a break in the game, continuing it by standing side by side while mouthing each other’s head and neck – this indicates dogs are playing a balanced version of the game.

The negative side of social play is that sometimes the dog might get overexcited, something that might stress him, something that can lead towards the aggression. When the dogs are chasing each other, this should be interrupted it at the moment it exceeds two minutes, as it can end up in conflict between the two.

Sexual Play

Sexual play is a normal dog behaviour


When a dog is on a sexual play mode or excited, he shows clear signs such as mounting, thrusting and masturbating. Masturbation of the dogs is done in various ways such as mounting and thrusting against people, other animals, objects, beds, toys or by only licking themselves. Yet, to dogs, this is just a play, since they normally do not erect or ejaculate during a play.

Sexual play is a normal dog behavior and dogs that have had no earlier humping experience are prone to have difficulties in mating. In addition, dogs with no mate are predisposed to hump on lifeless objects.

A problem that occurs with less socialized dogs is that they tent to over-mount over other dogs just to show control or superiority over them. Another problematic of dogs when they get stressful or excited is over-masturbation, which is harmful for the dog’s health as it can grow masturbation into a compulsive habit – something that can create difficulties in dog, as regards of functioning normally.

Oral Play

Dogs love chewing stuff with their mouth


Through the oral play, especially puppies, not excluding adult dogs, show their biological need for mouthing and chewing soft stuffs. There are so many objects dogs adore mouthing and chewing such as toys, furniture, food and much more – but all is just a play.

The oral behavior is a natural characteristic, especially amongst 6-8 months puppies, as it helps them relaxing tooth and mouth and it differs from other previous mentioned play types, since it does not need a partner, only preferred mouthing and chewing objects.

As dogs are prone to develop biting from the oral behavior, especially when outdoors in a new environment filled with strangers, it is important to reduce oral behavior as a preventive of a possible destructive behavior such as biting and aggression. This can be done by taking control over the dog’s oral behavior by engaging him in different helpful trainings, exercises, and games that assist the dog on lessening the interest towards oral behavior while increasing focus on these supportive activities. Preferred activities in this regards can be tugging games, racing, walking, running, playing with other canines, learning commands and more.

Destructing tools from biting can be also different chewing and mouthing toys and food, used as oral playing tools.

Head halter is also an option as you feel that dog can represent danger to strangers when outdoors – a tool that helps controlling the head and muzzle of the dog.

Predatory play

Dogs love chasing balls, sticks and other animals


Predatory drive or readiness to chase moving things is something that many dog possess. In the context of the game dogs love chasing balls, stick, leaf and many other moving objects.

Dogs also enjoy chasing other canines and animals, but this should be absolutely controlled and kept in a context of a play. Therefore dogs need to have the proper rules of playing it, such as the time how much they need to play, how much they can chase another animal, they cannot bite or become aggressive, how to pounce precisely when they catch an object and much more.

Something that everyone having a dog must know also about this play is that dogs have a need for chasing things, so it is important to involve them in such games, otherwise they might end up chasing imaginary things, something that might damage dog’s state of mind.

Another thing to know is “predatory drift” or the drive of dogs to become overly provoked by chasing – often ending with an attack. Therefore keeping an eye of the dog when playing with other animals or people is essential, sometimes even requiring professional help and trainings to avoid this destructive behavior if occurring.



To Top