Before they became the kings of our couches, many dogs were bred to help with specific tasks. In short, they worked. Times and breeds have changed, but those instincts haven’t gone away. So how do you help your best friend fulfill his “job” even though he’s unemployed? The answer is pretty simple — playtime. There’s a style for every kind of work dogs enjoy.
THE GUIDE TO PET PLAY STYLES
Their ancestors might have helped track down and retrieve actual prey, but these skilled dogs are totally content retrieving a tennis ball. They’re rugged jocks who were bred to keep up with a hunt, so they need lots of exercise and activity.
Spaniels, Retrievers, Pointers, Hounds, Terriers (including Jack Russell Terriers), Setters
Don’t laugh, these brainy breeds were born to be in charge. When herding a group, their ancestors acted as hall monitors and made sure everyone behaved. The result? Extremely intelligent dogs that need lots of mental stimulation and exercise — otherwise, they might actually try to herd you. Seriously, these overachievers are prone to giving themselves jobs if there’s nothing else to do, and that can lead to trouble. Herders can also be a bit cautious with other canines and hesitant about playtime.
Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collies, Corgis, Shepherds, Heelers
These smarties aren’t just in it for the treats — they love working together with you. That’s because they were bred for intense tasks like guarding, pulling sleds, and search and rescue. Nothing will make them happier than being included in whatever activity you’re doing but they do sometimes have a stubborn streak.
Boxer, Doberman, Mastiff, Husky, Rottweiler, Newfoundland, German Shepherds
It’s not that these guys don’t want to play — they’re just really more into relaxing than running around. After all, most toy and small breeds were bred to be cute companions, not hard laborers. And older dogs of all breeds enjoy taking things easy because their achy joints and blurry vision are slowing them down.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, small terriers, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Bichon Frise, Pugs, Miniature and Toy Poodles, senior dogs of any breed
Some dogs need a little extra encouragement. Others are still learning the skills for bonding and playing. And there are even dogs who just want to hang out with their person or cuddle with a plush toy, because that’s what makes them happy. A trainer will be able to tell you what’s going on and help you both have more fun. Plus, they can recommend lots of different types of toys.