Want to boost your dog's obedience and make training easier? Expert reveals the secret — and it wasn't what we were expecting!

Person playing with dog outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In an ideal world, we’d all play with our dogs more often. But, unfortunately, with other commitments, as well as other things we do with our pups like training and walks, play can sometimes be neglected.

Play is important, and dogs love it! Even if you can’t play with your dog every minute of every day, it’s a good idea to get some of the best dog toys out and incorporate play into your training sessions where you can. 

Amelia Steele, a professional dog trainer and behavioral consultant known as Amelia the Dog Trainer on Instagram, has shared three benefits to adding in more play, and each one made us think.

As Steele says, “Play is such a powerful tool in training and so often under-utilized,” but what are the actual benefits? 

1. Increased engagement: “If your dog thinks you’re great fun, they’re way more likely to pay attention to you out and about,” says Steele. “Including play a few times a week can really help to build engagement without you having to do a whole lot of training!”

You want your pup to engage with you, after all, and if they know there’s some fun in it for them they’ll be more likely to. This might help you when it comes to things like recall, and could help you keep your dog safe. 

2. Breed-specific outlets: Dogs love to play, regardless of breed, but some dogs are more playful than others. And, different breeds will have different needs when it comes to play — a hound and a retriever may not have the same favorite games, for example. So, whether you want to know how to play with a puppy or with an older dog, it’s important to consider their breed.

“When you tap into your dog’s breed-specific needs and tailor play accordingly,” explains Steele, “Your dog is going to be way more fulfilled. In turn, this helps to improve their behavior and overall wellbeing.”

3. Higher motivation: “I love using food in training, but I find that toys can really increase your dog’s motivation to work with you,” says Steele. “Again, if they think you’re fun and engaging they’re way more likely to WANT to train with you. It’s also much cheaper than buying treats all the time!”

Essentially, the more fun your dog has with you, the more motivated they’ll be when it comes to training, and who doesn’t want that? 

So, when it comes to your next training session, why not take the time to incorporate some play in there and have some fun with your pup? You might both reap the rewards! And, if you’ve got a puppy, here are eight great games for puppies that will keep them entertained for hours.

Earth Rated Tug Toy 
$23.99 at Chewy

Earth Rated Tug Toy
$23.99 at Chewy
Featuring two handles to encourage interactive play between you and your pup, this rubber tug toy has a smooth, curved shape that's easy to grab and is soft and durable. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.