Does your puppy play-bow at you? Do they bark at you for no reason? If so, your furry friend is probably trying to invite you to a fun playtime session with them. Since puppies can’t speak English, they use play signals to tell you, “hey, play with me!”.
Playing with your puppy gives you the chance to bond together and foster socialization skills.
According to an article by Puppyleaks, a study reported that dogs who aren’t played with enough will suffer from behavioral issues. Puppy play is influenced by a variety of factors, such as age and socialization level.
For example, many terriers love chasing and running after objects while hound breeds prefer games that involve the senses like sight or smell.
Puppy play behavior can range from exaggerated movements to loud, strange sounds. To make sense of these bizarre playtime rituals, we categorized them into 5 types.
Note: some play behavior can turn into “bad play”. This includes roughhousing and bullying—both activities need you to stop before one puppy harms the other.
Here are 5 different ways puppies like to play with others:
During social play, your puppy plays with other puppies or humans. This type of play is highly interactive, which helps your puppy test its social skills. Some forms of social play are play-biting, play-fighting, and wrestling. Your furry friend will begin social play by pouncing, barking, or play-bowing when they’re 3 or 4 weeks old.
Object play is another way form of puppy play behavior. During object play, your puppy will chase after a toy ball or chew on a toy. Purchase a toy that resembles an animal and have your puppy chase it around to engage its predator drive. Some puppies love playing with water and will chase or “bite” water sprayed from a hose.
Sometimes, puppies have so much energy that they’ll suddenly burst into play. This form of play is called motion play, and it can involve others or just your puppy itself. Your puppy may initiate a “ghost tag” game with themselves. Don’t worry.
They’re not going crazy. Your puppy may jump, pounce, and roll around without warning. It’s strange to us humans but we promise, your puppy is having the time of its life.
Does your puppy chase their tail sometimes? It’s so cute to watch, isn’t it? This play behavior is considered a form of self-play and is a way for your puppy to have fun without another puppy. Another form of self-play is pouncing on an imaginary object. If your puppy begins chasing their tail or bites at the air often, it may have a medical issue that needs a vet check-up.
Bad play is different from other play behaviors because it can hurt anyone involved. Of course, your puppy doesn’t understand how painful their bites or roughhousing can be to others.
When you hear yelping or loud growling, notice a puppy biting their playmate’s head or ears, or see one bullying the other, end the session at once. Give your puppies time to cool down before starting playtime again.
While puppy play helps you bond with your puppy, it also teaches them important social lessons they need when they’re adult dogs. Puppy play helps your fur-baby learn what good and bad behaviors are, which allows them to grow into well-rounded, mature dogs.