Girl picking tennis ball Girl picking tennis ball CREDIT: The PR Shop
Owner dog playing Owner dog playing CREDIT: The PR Shop
Dogs playing Dogs playing CREDIT: The PR Shop

Work hard, but also play hard!

Monday 8 October 2012, 6:02PM
By The PR Shop

The thing about dogs is they don’t go to work, or catch up with friends, or have independent lives outside of us – all they get is what we give them. It’s essential for us to walk our dogs to keep them fit and healthy, but that’s not all there should be to a dog’s life – it’s pretty much like someone telling us that we can go to the gym but not go swimming in summer or out dancing with friends!

Interestingly, the BENEFUL team conducted a survey on this very topic not so long ago and it showed that over 60% of Kiwis don’t play enough – so if you are in that category, don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is despite the fact that the BENEFUL survey definitively showed that playing is very important for your physical, mental and emotional health!

It’s not all doom and gloom, though – if you’re a dog owner, you may be in luck – over 80% of Kiwis say that having a dog helps you play more!

If you’re not sure what to do to play with your dog, here are some ideas of ways to engage with him or her in a playful way:


  • Puppies are often very energetic, and usually enjoy roughhousing (especially Labradors!). If your dog is a bit older – perhaps go a bit easier.
  • Lots of dogs love fetch, so use a stick or tennis ball to get your dog chasing it around. If you have a puppy in the chewing phase, just watch them to make sure they don’t chew the ball to pieces! If your pup won’t drop the ball, take two and throw the first to get them to drop the second!
  • Tug of war is lots of fun – a rope knotted on each end works well. Don’t be scared of a little bit of growling, as long as the tail is wagging!
  • Blow bubbles (yes, the kids’ kind) for your dog – they’ll probably love chasing them and jumping to ‘catch’ them in the air – just like kids!
  • If you don’t have enough energy for active playing, a tennis ball thrower is great for a game of extreme fetch – your dog will be well tired out and happy by the end, but you won’t have had to move an inch (great for after a long day at work).

Feel free to experiment with different sorts of games with your dog – you’ll soon learn which games he or she loves the most, and I think you’ll find it to be very rewarding for both of you.

For the times when you’re going to be out so can’t play with your dog, make sure you’re well stocked up with chew toys to entertain them while you’re out – just don’t use old shoes, as they probably can’t tell the difference between old ones and new ones!

Shivaun Statham from BENEFUL is a trained vet nurse and dog behaviourist, who answers Kiwis’ questions about their pets on the FREE Beneful pet care line – 0800 PET VIP. If anyone has questions about play or concerns about their pet’s health, behaviour or diet, they can call Shivaun and the rest of the BENEFUL team on this line for free pet advice.