Believe it or not, many dog owners do not know how to play with their dogs. During the first session in most puppy classes, a good trainer makes each owner play with his or her dog for a couple of minutes so they can observe their interaction. The usual scenario seen is the puppy jumping up on the owner and the owner not knowing how to respond, or else the puppy runs away from an owner because the owner isn’t playing with her. Few owners get down on their knees and play with their puppies.
This stems from social conditioning. As adults, we don’t allow ourselves to be kids. We inhibit the childlike qualities within us. Did you ever see a child play with a dog? Kids have no problem playing with dogs; they are always willing to have some fun. People always ask what kinds of dogs are good with children. My response is that any dog is great as long as the dog is properly integrated into the family.
Children are ideal playmates for puppies because they have such natural enthusiasm and energy. Pups pick up on that. Observe how kids play – they laugh, they giggle, their actions and faces are full of animation, and their voices full of joy. Such positive energy always draws a puppy’s attention.
Using structured games also keep the activities between pups and children more organized. It avoids the roughhousing that can happen between kids and puppies if left to their own devices.
Use Your Home As A Training Area
Your house is a rich training ground – you can use your chairs, table, area rugs, hallways, living room furniture, bathroom and bedroom doors, and stairways to create all kinds of games and challenges. For example, teaching your puppy to wait at the bottom or the top of a stairway before taking her up or down creates a pattern she will use later when you want her to wait at a curb on a busy street. Be creative with the use of your home.
All games should be played no longer than five minutes at a time. If your pup gets bored in less than five minutes, then don’t force her to play. Remember, she is a puppy and will be easily distracted by almost everything around her. Let her explore and be distracted; this is how she experiences the world.