Play time!

My beloved spaniel Alix loved to play. She was a natural at hide-and-seek, enjoyed a rousing game of tug-of-war, and had a couple of chew toys she’d carry about. Her favorite daily game, though, involved our Silver Tabby Amy and Katie the Calico Cat. We lived in a house with a long hallway and every day Alix would chase those two cats down the hall and into one of the bedrooms at the far end. A minute later we’d hear them galloping back–this time with the cats chasing the dog!

Now that the household once again includes a dog and a cat, I’m hoping they’ll come to enjoy playtime together, too. Although it’s been just three weeks since Sasha came to us, I’m seeing tentative overtures from both of them. Buddy isn’t interested in sharing his ball time (that cat has an impressive collection of both balls and strings, but that’s a story for another day), and Sasha clearly wasn’t accustomed to playtime.

We bought a few toys that we thought she might enjoy: a tug toy with a rope at one end and a tennis ball at the other; a couple of soft squeaky toys; and a small rubber Frisbee. We hid treats at the bottom of the (shallow) toy basket and encouraged her to find them. That was the easy part, but once the treats were gone, so apparently was her interest. Until one morning when I hid one of the squeaky toys behind my back and ran around the house, squeaking the toy as I went. Well, that got her attention! Here’s the result:


In addition to our daily obedience training time (in the house, in the backyard, along our quiet street), I’ve added daily play time to our schedule. It might be dancing around to music (she’s a fan of Willie Nelson) or she might grab a toy or nose a ball. We’ve celebrated the few times Sasha and Buddy have run around the backyard together! Really, though, it doesn’t matter what sort of playtime we have, as long as she’s enjoying herself and knows we’re happy to have her in our home.

If you have a dog like Sasha who’s slow to warm up to toys, drop by the Chasing Dog Tales website and read Elaine Bryant’s 10 tips for helping your dog learn how to play. You’ll be glad you did!