Why do Dogs Play?

 The favorite time of the day for every dog is playtime. You can also agree on that. Every time you introduce a toy or take your dog to some open places to play, their tail wagging won’t stop.
Play by definition is fun. So, if something is not fun then is it playing?
Dogs take their playtime very seriously. They wouldn’t welcome any disturbance even from their favorite human. The playing activities can include running, jumping, chasing, and many more. It is normal for humans but for dogs, there are more. It includes biting, chewing, wrestling, nothing, and many more.
So, why do dogs play?
Do they play just for fun or there is something more to it. We have prepared this blog to clear the air on that.

Reasons Why Dogs Play

There is no specific reason why dogs love to play. By studying the behavior of the dog, different theories are concluded. Not all these theories apply to every dog but it rather describes the behavior of adult dogs. Here are some theories on why dogs love to play:

Learn Motor Skills

Dogs are quite active when engaging in play. We see them chasing, biting each other, rolling on the floor, picking whatever they see, and so on.
When playing they learn different motor skills. They are able to understand the strength that their body. Like, take biting for example. When they are playing we see them biting but does that biting cause any harm to the other party? No, it doesn’t.
So, dogs learn how hard they can bite their playmate without hurting them. These play activities also allow them to learn different skills. Skills that they need in their daily life. Like how to find foods, how to move their body, how to defend themselves in a dire situation, and many more.

Prepare for an Unexpected Situation

When dogs are playing they are training for unexpected situations. Have you seen your dog balance their body right after being knocked off? When they are startled by something?
Playtime helps to improve their reflex action in such situations. So, how does that happen? Well, when dogs are engaging in play, changes in their brain and hormone takes place. This helps them to handle stressful situations in real life.
This also explains why dogs seem cautious when you introduce them to a new environment, new people, or even new toys. We sometimes see dogs put themselves in a hurting position or at disadvantage during play. This is very useful for them to put out real aggression.

Build Social Relationship

Have you ever noticed that dog only plays with the people they know or even the pet they are familiar with?  This is because they only prefer they have built a bond.
Play helps them in building one. The play session allows the dog to cooperate as a group. This help to build social relationships between their owner and other animals.

The Side Effect of other Processes

Sometimes the action of playing can be a side effect of other things that might not be fun for your dog. Like your dog might have excessive energy or lack stimulation.
The different factors of the poor environments may be also triggering the repetitive behaviors. This might seem like your dog is playing and enjoying but in fact, is a side effect of different factors.

Different Dog Play Styles

Dogs have different play styles. The preference can also be different from dog to dog. Finding the right dog play styles can play a great role in creating a bond.
Here we have listed some of the plays that many dogs and see for yourself which suits them better.


This play requires full-body contact and bared teeth as well. The teeth won’t inflict any pain but you can expect some nipping, jumping, and pushing. This play can go out of hand when the dog starts bullying or biting hard.

Lone Wolf

As the name suggests, this play is for the introverted dog. Who doesn’t need other dogs to have fun? They will throw toys and then catch them themselves, running solo here and there.


This play is a favorite for the dog who loves to run. If your dog falls under the ones who love to run then know that they are full of stamina.
You can get toys like remote control cars and let your dog chase after them. The game of fetching is also great for such play.


As the name suggests, we see the dog who enjoys cheerleader play on the edge of the game. In the game between many dogs, the dog would rather sit on the edge and cheer by barking.


This play is the same as the tug-of-war game. Your dog will grab onto something and won’t let it go. This is a nice play between humans and other dogs. If your dog shows signs of aggression during the play then we recommend you not to encourage them to such play.

Body Slammer

Compare your dog to a bumper car. In this play, the dogs will try to knock down each other. The game might seem aggressive but it is a fun play for them.

Soft Toucher

This type of play is much suitable for small and elderly dogs. They might be hesitant to play with other dogs who are more energetic.
They would rather prefer a soft-touch interaction.


Why Dogs Play is Important? – Benefits

Dog engaging a play is very beneficial for the dog and for the owner. Here we have listed the most common benefits.

Physical Health

Different play requires your dog to move, run and jump. This also requires great energy. So, play is the same as an exercise for the dog. It keeps them active and they don’t have the chance to laze around.
An active dog has a healthy body. it prevents them from being obese and keeps your dog’s heart very healthy. The joints are also well lubricated which ensures your dog’s bone is strong and healthy.

Mental Health

Play requires your dog to also use the brain, not the body. The game that they play requires them to use their brain to handle different strategies. This also keeps your dog’s mind focused and sharp.
The play also provides them with enough stimulation which keeps them happy. They do not get mentally stressed or feel lonely. So, dogs’ mental health is also improved.

Improve social skills

Some play requires your dog to engage with other dogs and with you also. Usually, the dogs who are kept indoors all the time get stressed when in contact with other dogs and people.
If your dog has the experience of playing with other dogs or people then their overall social skills improves. This prevents your dog from any situation that stresses them.

Creates a bond between you and your pet

A playtime between you and your dog is a great way to create a bond with your dog. Even if it is for a few minutes every day, you can strengthen your bond with your dog.

Beneficial for your health

After a long busy day, seeing your dog is the best thing about coming home for you. Your mood lightens seeing your dog.
Playing with your dog also provides a bit of stretching and exercise for you. Your dog can also exercise which is a win-win situation for both.

In Short,

Dogs play for various reasons. Many dog behavior analyses have brought up different theories. Some of them are:
  • To learn motor skills.
  • To prepare for an unexpected situation.
  • To build social relationships.
  • It is the side effect of other processes.
The play that a dog engages in can also differ from dog to dog. So, finding your dog’s preference is important. Playtime is very beneficial for your dog. Your dog’s health is also improved and you can also form a great bond with your dog. If you haven’t started letting your dog play then, we encourage you to do so now. It is never late, but don’t force them on doing what they don’t want.
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Arun Sapkota

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