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Why do dogs play?

Updated on February 18, 2012

All work and no play makes …etc, etc. This is why after a hard day’s work people would have a date with friends, go out on walks, go to the movie, go out for lunch or have a round of golf. Basically, these activities are done to unwind. Dogs are no different. Our furry friends need to play because play is fun. Play is a very necessary tool for a puppy to develop into its full potential.

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Bonding time with the family

Dogs need to interact not only with other dogs and animals but with humans as well. Since dogs were domesticated, these animals have formed a close attachment to their human family. And the attachment is generally developed when dogs play with its people.


Puppies learn to play with their littermates several days after they were born. Mama dog takes the opportunity to teach the pups their Ps and Qs while they are playing. Mama dog would growl and even bite a pup to teach it canine good manners. Play is a kind of role playing rehearsal that will hone the social skills of the puppy and prepare it to be socially adept.

Letting off steam

Dogs are naturally energetic animals. Play is very necessary for dogs to let off steam. A dog that has no opportunity to expend its pent up energies will be a property destroying pet and one that annoys the neighbors with excessive barking.


Play is one of the essential activities that will promote bone and muscle tone development. Playing catch ball and Frisbees will be a good way to improve lung and heart functions. More importantly it was noted that dogs that are allowed to play are less morose and fretful even if left alone at home all day. Most owners have taken to playing with the pet before leaving it alone as a tired dog would sleep the day away instead of digging tunnels, raiding garbage cans and indulging in destructive chewing to keep itself occupied.

A dog owner’s role

A responsible owner knowing the benefits playing can give to the pet will make sure that Spike and Fifi are given opportunities to play. An owner though should know when to call a halt to an exuberant play that is going out of control. For the safety of the pet, it would be important to make sure that environment as well as the playmates of the dog is not potential hazards to the well being of the pet. The dog may be too immersed in playing but the owner being the alpha male should be able stop a game if the pet has had enough.  

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monkey and dog play


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