Friday, May 1, 2015

The Importance of Play in Dog Training

Rocco enjoys a backyard romp
We've taken a step back from our agility training this week and worked on some ways to put the fun back in agility!

And for us that means a whole lot of backyard play.

Did you know that play is an important part of dog training? Not only is it great for your pup both mentally and physically, it's also an awesome way to build a bond with your dog and help increase their focus on you. Play also helps create motivation for whatever type of game or sport you are playing.

Play doesn't need to be anything fancy. This week, Rocco and I played chase in the backyard. We added some "side loyalty" games which translates to him running with me during agility runs AND coming to the side I signal him to. That's so important in agility as you turn left and right, because you don't want to get all tangled up in your dog!

In side loyalty games, I run with my arm out, signaling the side I want Rocco to run on. Then I turn left and right, continuing to give him signals so he know what side to stay on or switch to.

There are also lots of treats involved to reward him for coming to the correct side!

We're also playing with our disc, which can also help with distance training.  He runs out to get it and then brings it back and puts it in my hand.  If he drops it early, I send him back out to get it and then he brings it! And, we'll add some tug at that point, too. Treats again!

Rocco's not a regular retriever or tugger so this takes some thinking on his part, but he clearly "gets it" when gets his treat at the end!

In our agility class this week, Rocco had a LOT more enthusiasm. And it was noticed by my classmates. They said whatever I was doing was working... and we owe it all to play!

Happy Rocco after a play session!
It may seem obvious, but we need to remind ourselves to keep the play in our day to keep training fun and always positive!

Do you make a point to include play in your day?
What kind of play works for you and your dog?
Let us know in the comments below!

The fun and games continue every Friday with FitDog Friday, the weekly Blog Hop brought to you by To Dog With LoveSlimDoggy and My GBGV Life to promote a healthy active lifestyle for pets (and their people, too!). Join in every Friday by linking up your FitDog story or visiting the blogs in the Hop.


  1. Fun and play is very important, and a break in training is also a good thing. Over training can turn a fun sport into something a dog dreads, so good for Rocco having some different fun lately.

  2. Neither Jack or Maggie are big players, so it's easy to forget they need some fun. IT is so important...for humans too!

  3. Looks like you have had a great time! Barley and I try to make most of our training into games so that it always seems fun :) I love all of these pictures!

  4. So glad that you got to play and have a good time! Love your Frisbee!!

  5. Nice post guys. Play in training is always a good thing.

  6. Judging by that smile it worked! Happy Friday :)

  7. Fun training game! I'm pretty sure Mr. N thinks most training is a game. He's a very serious gamer though.

  8. Great post! They all need play, I take a moment to play with mine too, they need there fun time also.

  9. Our boy Buzz's all-time favorite is a good ol' game of fetch with his beloved chuck-it ball! His sister Missy isn't too crazy about toys, but she LOVES to play hide & seek around the house with Mommy and/or Daddy!