Welcome to Day 4 of Puppy Preschool

(Don’t know what we’re talking about? Click here.) Today we’ll cover exercise and appropriate play.

Puppy Preschool


As a nation we are becoming more and more sedentary in our daily routines. Movies, video games or a good book may be entertaining for us but our pets have a lot more get up and go! If your pet is left to his own devices he will entertain himself with normal animal behaviors, most of which we do not like; digging, chewing, barking, scratching, pouncing, meowing (mostly in the middle of the night) and generally making a nuisance of themselves. It is up to us to establish healthy exercise routines for our pets and to encourage appropriate behaviors.

Making Exercise Part of Your Daily Routine

Exercise is not achieved by letting your dog run around the yard by himself or letting your cat simply bat around a ball of yarn! In order for exercise to be effective it should be consistent, structured and interactive. Think of your pet’s exercise as more than just playing. An animal needs to stimulate their mind as well as their bodies and experience an array of physical and mental challenges

  • Be consistent when providing exercise. Activities should take place everyday for a specific amount of time.
  • Structure is a very important part of exercise for your pet. Use specific games or activities on a consistent schedule.
  • Interactive means you participate! Exercise should relieve stress, and it will be a lot more fun if you join in.
  • Use games and toys to add variety.


Toys help to keep your dog interested and stimulate his senses. However, make sure that toys are sturdy and cannot be ingested. Also, make sure that your dog cannot tear anything apart! Here are some suggestions…

  • Kong products
  • Rope knots
  • Buster Cubes or puzzle toys
  • Stuffed animals
  • Nylabone
  • Balls
  • Frisbees

Note: Do not give anything to your dog to play with that he might confuse with something that you do not want him to chew up. For example, do not give him an old shoe or sock if you do not want him to chew up your current shoes or socks.


Here are some fun games to play with your pup…

  • Hide-n-Seek: Have your dog complete a sit and stay and then you hide somewhere in the house (make it easy at first). Then call him to you. When he finds you celebrate with lots of praise and a small food treat. Make the game harder as your pet gets better at it. This is a great game for your kids and your dog.
  • Treasure Hunt: Have your dog complete a sit and down-stay and place a treat (food or toy) where he can see it. Release the stay and encourage your dog to get the treat. Make the game harder as your dog gets better. Hide the treat out of sight but let him see you stash it. Then increase the difficulty by going into another room to hide a treat.
  • Red Light, Green Light: Just like the child’s game this is stop and go for your dog. Red Light is sit and Green Light is play like crazy. A great game and a good learning opportunity. • Fetch: An old favorite for everyone. Some dogs may need to be taught how to fetch. The important part of this game is training a reliable “drop it” cue so this game does not became a chase game. •
  • Shell game: Place a treat under a plastic cup (let your dog see you do this) and wait for your dog to nose the cup then he gets the treat. Add two more cups to add difficulty and always place the treat under the same cup so the scent stays strong. Move the cups around and watch your dog find the treat every time.
  • Tug of War: Yes this can be a fun and safe game for you and your dog as long as you set specific rules and stick to them. Use only one toy for this game and when you are not playing the toy is put away. You are the only one who can initiate the game and end the game. Take breaks from the game often to bring the level of intensity and excitement down. If the dog is repeatedly mouthing your hands or any part of your body you should end the game and put the toy up. Say something like “too bad game over”. You can start the game up again later when your dog has calmed down. You must have a reliable “drop it” cue to play this game. If your dog has ever shown any signs of aggression to family members or you are having problems with aggressive behavior with your pet DO NOT play this game.

Appropriate Play

Play is very important for your pet. In young animals, play helps them to develop social skills and bite inhibition and in older animals play enriches their environment and helps them burn off excess energy. Play can also be great practice for predatory behaviors. Supervising your pets closely and being observant during play time is a great tool for encouraging appropriate play behaviors.

Games and activities with your pet should be kept within acceptable arousal levels. If your pet becomes overly excited during play, take a break and let him calm down. Rough housing and wrestling with your pet may seem like great fun, but if you are having a problem with play biting or your pet is too rough during play these activities will only make the problem worse. Play should be kept low key and under control.

Keep in mind when playing with a puppy or kitten that they grow up fast and play behaviors practiced during this important growth period will follow them into adulthood. When your pet reaches adulthood he will be bigger, stronger and faster and so will his play behaviors; so train them early about boundaries and self control.


About the Puppy Preschool Blog Series

Over the next few days, we’ll touch upon a variety of puppy-parenting issues that are covered, in detail, by our Behavior Training Programs Manager in her full Puppy-PreSchool Course. If you like what you get a taste of in these blog posts, sign your little guy (or gal) up for the full course,here.

Topics to Be Covered

  • Sunday: About Positive Reinforcement Training
  • Monday: Potty/Crate Training
  • Tuesday: Play biting/Chewing
  • Wednesday: Exercise and Appropriate Play
  • Thursday: Socialization
  • Friday: Conclusion

Stay tuned throughout the week as we deliver multi-media lessons on how to raise your puppy right. By Friday, your puppy could be a fully-fledged preschool graduate.


For more information…

…on our Puppy Preschool course, or any of our other obedience classes, just visit our website.You can also speak to our Behavior and Training Department at 954.266.6819. Classes are held at the Humane Society, 2070 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312.

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