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Greyhound and football

Could the amount of your Greyhound’s playtime be affecting his behavior? Research suggests that playtime is just as important as a good diet and exercise for a happy and healthy Greyhound. Many behavior problems are caused by stress and anxiety, and play is a stress buster for both our dogs and us.  Interactive play is also greyt for bonding between us and our dogs. Read on for more about the benefits of play and how we can implement more playtime into our dog’s daily routine.

Humans and dogs are two of the few species of mammals that continue to play well into adulthood. Dogs need to engage in fun activities just as humans in order to keep them both mentally and physically fit. 

A study released by Bristol University has found that play is key to our dogs wellbeing. The study of 4,000 dog owners showed that dogs who don’t engage in a lot of play suffer from behavioral issues such as anxiety and aggression, or destructive behavior.

Greyhound and toys

Less play time also leads to an increase in whining, jumping up, and not coming when called. Scientists are beginning to agree that play is the key to a dogs happiness. The full study was released in the Channel 4 documentary series called Dogs: Their Secret Lives. The study found that 20% of owners play with their dog 6 times a day. 50% said they play with their dogs two or three times a day and 10% only engage in play once a day.

We have trained dogs to be playful and to interact with us. -Dr. Nicola Rooney – Bristol University

As mentioned, one key benefit of play is stress reduction.  Dogs become stressed because they have limited ability to control and reduce their stress levels. A simple 15-minute play session with our dogs can help eliminate their stress and will leave them with a feeling of peace and contentment.

Greyhound playing with tennis ball

Another crucial role of play is exercise and energy release for dogs.  This is also beneficial to their person!  Play can lower our blood pressure and help us cope better with our own stressors.

Playing games with your Greyhound is not only a way to keep them physically fit it’s also mentally challenging. Dogs thrive when they’re able to engage in mentally stimulating activities.  Playtime can be used to learn something new, such as names of toys, or even put toys away, or to reinforce existing training. Play does not replace regular walks, though.  It’s very enriching for your dog to sniff all the new smells.  A special treat might be to go to somewhere new for them to sniff.

Many Greyhounds fresh off the track have never had the opportunity to learn how to play, so you may have to show them the ropes.  This may take patience, and trying different toys or games till you hit on one(s) that your dog enjoys.  If they don’t care for squeaky or plush toys, maybe food toys and nose work could keep them occupied indoors.  Even hiding kibble or treats and playing “Find It!” or playing “Which Hand?” where you put a treat in one hand, then they have to find the one with the goodies. 

Dog playing cup game

Dogs are natural scavengers, so having to work for food isn’t mean or unusual — it’s normal and mentally stimulating for them since it’s a great way for our dogs to express some of their natural behavior.

Usually Greyhounds love to chase a ball (not so good at retrieving, however!) when the weather is nice.  Chasing bubbles is also fun, and no retrieving necessary! Amazon sells bubble liquid in bacon or peanut butter flavors, but you can just use regular kid’s bubbles (just don’t let them ingest too much).  Also, a flirt pole is always a hit, and not so tiring for you.  You can buy them or DIY – instructions here:

Playing is so important for good quality of life for both our dogs and us. Bottom line is: next time you take a break to play with your dog, don’t feel guilty!  You are enriching both your pup’s life and your own.  It gives you a moment to forget everything and just have some good old fun.

You can find lots more ideas for activities to keep your dog busy indoors and out on the web, such as   What is your favorite game to play with your hound?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” –George Bernard Shaw

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