What was your favorite game to play as a kid with your classmates or neighbors? Was it Red Rover? Tag? Four Square? Flash forward to today. Do you play those same games with your adult friends? Do you play tag around the backyard or a proper game of London Bridge? The answer for the majority is probably not at all.
Now, isn’t it interesting that dogs play their entire lives? They play as puppies and they still play as adults with their toys and with their other adult dog friends. Most animals cease to play as they get older, but not dogs!
Why Do Puppies Play?
Just like other mammal children, puppies play to learn and to build relationships. On the Companion Animal Psychology blog, Zazie Todd, Ph.D., explains that puppies play to help them learn motor skills, build social cohesion, and prepare for unexpected events to help them cope. Playing with you, their person, is also important for puppies. It helps them learn the proper way to interact with humans and what to expect from you.
Why Do Adult Dogs Play?
At some point during adulthood, most animals stop playing or at least reduce the amount of time in the day spent playing. As adults, we may play board games or video games with friends and family, but we don’t tend to chase each other around the backyard. At least maybe not the majority of us. Adult dogs, though, keep on chasing and physically playing until their bodies grow old. Why? According to a Behavioral Processes article called, “Why do adult dogs ‘play’?” The authors suspect that the playfulness of adult dogs has far more to do with us than it does with them!
The article also states that the playfulness of adult dogs could have been genetically selected for during domestication. Dogs may be unique among the animal kingdom in the sense that they are rewarded by social contact with humans through play. Repeated play appears to be a major factor in enhancing the relationship between dog and owner, and given that this link seems to be absent in wolves, indicates this behavior may have been selected for during domestication. (We have a whole blog on the history of man’s best friend!)
Basically, dogs play because we like dogs that can play with us! The paper goes on to describe playfulness as appealing to our “cute” factor and the benefits dogs bring us humans in return.
Where Can I Take My Dog to Play?
Pups and adult dogs are always welcome to come play at The Ranch! Our doggy daycare program gives your pups the freedom to play and interact with friends in a safe and supervised environment. This way your dogs are letting out all their playful energy to the fullest!