Start with the basics
Playing with your dog helps to build a strong bond with him and keeps you both active on days too cold to go for a walk in the park. Start with a basic game of fetch. For those who don’t know how to try these easy steps.
Fetch seems to be the most natural game to play with your dog – a game that only requires a ball or a toy. Ensure that the ball is big enough so that Fido won’t swallow it in his excitement. See www.familypetcentre.co.za for a range of toys.
Step 1 – Introduce the ball or toy to your pet in the garden. Most pets instinctively know that they should retrieve the ball if you start throwing it. You might have to coax him and run after the ball yourself a few times to show him what to do.
Step 2 – Once he retrieves the ball, call him to bring it back to you. Encourage him to ‘drop’ the ball – you can swop it for a treat or even another ball. Every time he brings the ball back to you and drops it, praise and reward him. This makes the game more fun!
You can play this game outdoors or indoors, provided that the room is uncluttered. Puppies and children can play the game too.
Before participating in any games, both you and your dog need to understand that all games have rules that should be adhered to. Because pets don’t always understand the human rules, we have to teach them the rules.
Rule 1 – Humans control games and therefore you should start and end the game on your terms. You should initiate the game when you are ready. Set the tone of the game and if it gets too rough, take a break or end the game.
Rule 2 – Play with durable toys and not human limbs – teach your pet that your limbs are not prey items.
Rule 3 – The toy belongs to the human. At the end of a game, put the toy away – offer your dog a high-value treat in exchange for the toy and when he drops it, say a word like “drop”. He will eventually respond appropriately to “drop”.
Always end the game on a positive note. This way your dog will look forward to your next play session. Remember that your dog will not always be in the mood to play, especially if he is tired. Respect that and don’t force him into a game when he doesn’t feel like it.
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