Animal Wellness

Paws for Play ~ The Dog-Approved Path to Wellness

dog playing with toy
I'm Claire!

I'm an Animal Kinesiologist writing about all things animals and energy. I am passionate about sharing insights into the energetic bond we share with our animals, and the valuable lessons they bring us.

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Did you know dogs and humans are amongst only a few species of mammals who continue to display playful behaviour into adulthood?

The ability to play has been important in the successful domestication of dogs, and a vital way to build a connection with your four-legged family member.

Taking time to play with your dog is often low on the list of priorities. The stresses of everyday life, filled with duties; obligations; and ‘to-do’ lists, means it is easy to forget to incorporate play into your adult life, therefore it can be even harder to prioritise play time with your dog on a daily basis.  

There are many great benefits that come from regular and meaningful playtime with your dog, and in this blog we will look at the some of the top reasons why play is so important to the cognitive and physical wellbeing of your dog – and you!

 1. Physical Health Boost

Participating in active play has many physical benefits for your pooch. It builds a healthy heart; keeps joints lubricated; and improves balance and co-ordination. Keeping your dog fit and lean through play can increase their lifespan and help them be more physically resilient to muscle tension and ageing joints. It is also a great excuse to increase your own physical activity levels as you join in the fun!

Playing Leads to Good Manners!

Puppies learn basic manners through play, and through socialisation they learn self-control, both emotionally and physically.

When playing with your dog, always incorporate commands such as STAY, SIT, DOWN and LEAVE. This teaches them self-control, whilst making it fun at the same time. It is always important that you stay in control of the game and decide when it starts and when it finishes.  Retrieval games are a good option as many different control skills are incorporated.

2. Mental Stimulation

Exercising your dog’s mind is just as important as exercising their body. Games that have rules are more mentally stimulating for dogs, as are games that use multiple senses, such as snuffle mats; stuffed Kong toys; and nose work games. By engaging in games that encourage your dog to problem solve, you are helping to building their self-confidence and emotional resilience. This is particularly beneficial for dogs with a nervous disposition.

3. Bonding

Playing with your dog requires co-operation from both parties. By increasing the ways in which you co-operate with your dog through play, you strengthen the bond and build trust. You learn to work as a team and this ultimately strengthens the relationship you share. 

4. Fewer Problem Behaviours

Bristol University studied 4000 dogs and their owners, with results showing that dogs who do not engage in regular play are more likely to suffer from behavioural issues such as anxiety and aggression. Play creates opportunities to train impulse control whilst and also encouraging co-operation.  Dogs who do not engage in play with their owners are more likely to pull on the lead, bark excessively, and not come when called.

The simple act of playing with your dog can reduce their stress levels and allow them to be a well-rounded dog overall, which in turn will reduce your stress levels!

5. Being You

Taking time to play with your dog is important for your own wellbeing. How often do you simply stop and take time to play? When you allow yourself to play you become fully present and live in the moment; the pleasure and reward centres of your brain light up and your stress levels decrease.  When you are fully engaged in play your inhibitions drop and you feel more connected to not only your dog, but the world around you. 

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

– George Bernard Shaw 

As a commitment to the wellbeing of both you and your dog, I invite you to schedule some playtime with your dog every day. Aim for 1-2 short, but meaningful play sessions and just watch your relationship blossom.

Claire Oats
Specialist Animal Kinesiologist B.Sc, Dip Kin

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Animal Kinesiologist, Animal behaviourist, bodywork practitioner 

I'm Claire.
Animal Kinesiologist + Animal Lover

As an Animal Practitioner with over 20+ years experience, when I am not working with animals - I love to write about them!  Kinesiology gives a very unique perspective into the emotional experience of animals, and how trapped emotions affects both their behaviour and their physical wellbeing. I am passionate about sharing my experiences and lessons from the animals I work with. Enjoy!

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