Want to get your puppy out of the house and playing, but aren't sure what you can do? These tips for playing with puppies will help new pet parents safely get their puppies out and about for fun and socialization.
Packing a Puppy Play Pack
New pet parents, like any new parent, need to be prepared before leaving the house. Get a sling bag or small backpack and always have these items before you head out on adventures with your puppy.
- Collapsible water bowl
- Bottle of water
- Extra leash (in case your dog chews through his while riding in the car)
- Dog waste bags
- Chew toy
- Rag or old towel (to clean up your dog if he gets wet or muddy)
- Training treats
- Photo of your pet (in case he runs off)
Selecting a Safe Place
One of the biggest concerns new pet parents have about taking their puppy outside is that their puppy will run off. Although it may seem better to stay inside and play, most dogs like to socialize, and it's important for their development to get them out and about while they're young. PetMD suggests simply taking him on a walk around the block to interact with his new neighbors, humans and dogs alike. When deciding where to go with your puppy, check if your veterinarian holds puppy play groups. These are usually well-organized and incorporate fun and training with dogs of similar size. Before joining one of these groups, please ensure your puppy is up-to-date on their vaccine schedule and deworming.
Puppies can get easily distracted, so less is more when starting outdoor activities with your puppy. After a few small trips out to small enclosed areas and controlled puppy play groups, next try your community dog park that may allow you and your puppy to have fun while still being in a fenced area. Make sure your pup's collar is snug, but not to where it makes him uncomfortable, before you start your play activities. If your dog does get loose, be sure to have a photo of your pup with you and have an ID tag on his collar with your phone number. This is a good reason why an enclosed area is important if you want to let him off leash to run and play with other pups; you'll find that playing fetch is a lot more fun when he's not tethered to his leash.
Outdoor Games to Play with Puppies
When you think of your typical dog games, you might think of fetch and Frisbee®, but these might not be the best games for untrained pups. Because they have to be let off leash to play, there is always a greater risk of them running off and you having to chase after them. Also, because they can get easily distracted, a squirrel or butterfly could be enough to turn a game of fetch into a game of you trying to fetch your puppy.
In their young state, it's best to play games that promote interaction at close range; it helps improve your bond, as well as keeps him close. Tug-of-war with a rope is a great game for young pups because it helps meet their need to chew when they're young with the exercise necessary for expending energy. Another great game is soccer. Play keep-away with a small soccer ball as your pup will try to tackle the ball. It keeps him close to your side, but can be great exercise for both of you.
The Next Step
Once you have perfected playing with puppies in your local community, and your dog is consistently following basic commands, it may be time to try even bigger outdoor adventures. Puppy water parks are popping up all over the United States that combine outdoor socialization and water play. There are also lots of opportunities to go hiking with your pup. It's a great way for him to get exercise, for the two of you to bond and him to explore the world around him, which can do wonders for his mental growth and development.
Once you have tried a few different parks and water parks, be sure to focus on what your pup likes best and keep attending those activities a few times a month to keep your dog happy and healthy. New pet parents also need to reinforce training and basic commands at home and during outdoor adventures. Even when puppies face setbacks and forget what they've learned, stick with it and keep looking for new outdoor adventures to enjoy together.
Chrissie Klinger is an educator, writer and mother of two children, three dogs and three cats. She enjoys living an active and eco-friendly lifestyle.