This isn’t a stupid question. Did you know that we actually have to teach our dogs how to play with us?
So, what is play to a dog? If you watch a litter of puppies at play, they tug and chase things, they pounce, mouth, and push and tumble around with one another. This is the very beginnings of their “prey drive” being activated.
From the time my puppies come home, at eight weeks old, I am play tugging with them, throwing things for them to chase and pushing gently on their bodies. Once the have their adult teeth and I have taught them a hand delivered retrieve, we can tug and chase for real.
Playing with dogs is activating their natural drives to simulate predatory behavior. I also invite my dog to jump on me and then playfully push him away and invite him to jump again. I begin the play and I end it. It is always on my terms. This is never the dog’s decision.
Play in dogs is anything they find motivating. I use a variety of tug toys and retrieve toys as rewards for my dog during training. I use them more than I use food.
So, start pushing, tossing and tugging with your dog and watch the magic happen!