Play Time is for Learning

"Control the Games - Control the Pet"

All animals learn through play. Mother Nature designed these games to establish dominance and practice hunting skills. These games are instinctive to your pet and are generally amusing to the owners. However, understanding the significance of these games is important if you are going to play them with your pets on a regular basis.

There is a difference between chew-toys (teething type objects: double knotted rope, stuffed Kong, Nylabone, etc.) and play-toys (squeaky toys, tennis balls, toys that pets can destroy). Chew toys teach your puppy or kitten to chew on the correct item. Try to interact with your pet and all his toys on a daily basis.

While in the litter your puppy/kitten was learning CANINE OR FELINE rules and communication skills. They were learning how to gain control by possessing articles or toys. They used strength and tenacity to win their trophy. Once won, they would prance around with it as a visual display of their superiority. Tug, for example, is a game of strength that dogs hate to lose. Luckily, you can outsmart your pet and use these games to your advantage.

Household rules: You start the game - you control the level of the play session - you decide when to end the game - and you maintain control of the object. You keep the trophy at the end of each game.

Possession games involve acquiring a trophy and protecting it. Owners inadvertently encourage the chase-me-game by attempting to recover the stolen object. Puppies and kittens quickly learn to get attention by possessing something that strongly smells of human scent.

The rule: Teach your puppy/kitten to chew on the correct items by bringing attention to his chew toys.

The rule: Do not chase your pet. Calmly trade the object for one of his toys or a treat.

Puppies and kittens love playing games. Cash in on this by insisting that your pet plays by your rules - your way or no play. Anytime that your pet gets overly excited during a game, the game ends. No fuss, no confrontation, simply take the toy and walk away. Resume the game when your pet has calmed down.

Do not play rough games like tackle, chase and keep away. Rough, out of control games only teach your pet how to be rough and out of control. If play with your pet includes biting on skin - you are inadvertently teaching him to bite YOU and everyone else in your home!

The one rule that holds for all games is that your pet is not allowed to plant teeth on any human body part. They can tug on rags or toys instead of arms.

Fetch, hide & seek and find it games are the most productive, stimulating games to play.