Games and social interaction are essential for the welfare and happiness of dogs; motivating your dog to play should be one of your top daily priorities. Playing with your dog is good for their health, and it is also a great way to improve your relationship.

In this AnimalWised article we will offer you a small guide with tricks and tips to motivate my dog to play, with some ideas to encourage your pet to exercise and have fun both indoors and outdoors. Read on and discover them all!

Outside the home

  • Usually, dogs find a much more diverse environment outdoors: rich in smells, people and different stimuli. Outside the home, we have a variety of options to motivate our dog to play and exercise with us.
  • You can go to the park and use any toy to motivate your dog, such as balls, bones, bitters, etc. You can also use objects from the natural environment that surrounds you, like sticks and pebbles. Sometimes, some dogs do not show interest in conventional toys: in that case, you can look for a toy that makes sound so to capture their attention.
  • If toys do not seem to be enough to motivate your dog to play, you can go to a a dog park so that they can engage and socialize with other dogs. However, your dog should be well socialized to display appropriate behavior towards other dogs.
  • Following a route through the mountains or the beach will be a good choice if they are a healthy adult dog. They will enjoy discovering new places and running around among the fallen leaves: seeing new places is a good way to motivate a dog to have a good time.

Inside the home

  • You can also motivate your dog by yourself. Why not chase them around? Most dogs enjoy human company above all things, especially from those people who care for and protect them. For that reason, playing with your dog directly can be a fantastic optionInside the home
  • Although the great outdoors gives you more options, the truth is that youcan motivate your dog to play indoors. Without resorting to intense exercise, you can also get your dog to have a great time:
  • Practicing obedience will not only help you have a pet with calm and appropriate behavior: it is also a great way to motivate them to play with you. Teach your dog basic commands, or move on to advanced ones. Using treats and positive reinforcement, practice training for 15 minutes every day.
  • As you know, food is a powerful stimulant for the dog. In pet stores you can find intelligence toys that use food as a motivator and reward, like the Kong for dogs. Discover all the options available on the market.
  • A cheaper version of the previous option would be to hide food around the house, waiting for the dog to find it. Do not forget the place where you hid it and guide your pet if they can’t find the prizes.
  • At home you can also use simple toys like balls and dolls: if they do not seem interested in the activity, include yourself in it by chasing them with the toy.

What if my dog still isn’t motivated?

If none of the above tips to motivate your dog to play worked, consider this:

  • Puppies cannot properly relate a toy to a given game activity yet. You must be consistent and strive to motivate them. Take your puppy to other dogs to learn from them how to play and how to behave.
  • Elderly dogs usually sleep many more hours and show a very relaxed attitude to games: it normal at that age. If your dog is moving into the elderly stage, do not worry and keep trying to motivate them when they are awake or especially cheerful.
  • It may be that the dog becomes over-stimulated with so much play. Let them play when they want to, as their personality may not be particularly playful.
  • Dogs with high levels of stress can show stereotypies and general apathy when moving or interacting. If you have recently adopted a dog you must give it space for them to adapt and begin to recover from their previous situation. They will gradually open up.

If you are in any case unable to motivate your dog, and over time they show no sign of recovery, you should go to a specialist ethologist.

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