I think playing with dogs is a really good idea.
When people play with their dogs, they like them better. They smile more. Their dogs start to look towards them more easily and frequently.
In short – it’s just nice. It’s nice for people and it’s nice for dogs.
So. How does one play with a dog?
Here’s a video example of play with Brito. It’s a nice video to show to kids who have read the book, Blogger Dog, Brito! Yes, he’s a real dog! Yes, he has a personality! And yes, mom really does play with him!
In this video, I am playing with food, toys and just myself. I am throwing training into the mix as well, because my long term goal with training is always to make it as blended with play as possible
If you incorporate play into your training classes, start small. For homework, encourage your student to find one form of personal play that the dog enjoys (belly rub? Chasing your hand?), one form of toy play that works (tug of war? fetch? Chew toy while mom cheers you on?) and one form of food play (toss the treat? Chase the mommy with the treat? Jump for the treat?). If you need more play ideas, look for the book, Dog Sports Skills: Play! written by Denise Fenzi and Deb Jones.
After a few weeks, ask your students how they’re doing with their play. I bet they smile when they talk about it.
And people who smile when they talk about their dogs love their dogs more and treat them better. That’s what I want to see!