5 Reasons Why Your Dog Isn’t Playing

why your dog isn't playing

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Most dogs love to play and their play drive reduces gradually as they grow older but even the oldest dogs come up to you with their toys. It becomes a reason for concern if your dog suddenly stops playing. 

So here are 5 reasons why your dog isn’t playing.

1. Your Dog Is Old

As dogs grow older they don’t have the strength and stamina to play as much as they did when they were younger. There is nothing wrong if your dog doesn’t play anymore because they are older. The best way to keep them entertained is to play games that are not as strenuous. Old dogs will still love to interact with you, you just have to make sure they are interacting without overstraining themselves.

It is okay for older dogs to not play as long as they don’t have any concerning symptoms. Are they also not eating? Or loosing too much hair or limping etc? If there are any additional symptoms, you must take them to the vet.

2. Your Dog Is Hurt Or In Pain

Injury and pain are usually the biggest reasons for not wanting to play. Movement may hurt them which is why they prefer to not indulge. Many vets say that dogs with dental problems choose to take a back seat because it hurts them to pull and bite their toys.

Other reasons for them to stop playing is because of injury while play. Dogs are resilient, hence, it usually takes a few minutes for the pain to go away and they are back on their feet. It is usually when they are not moving for a long while after play that it becomes a reason for concern. If you see your dog slowly deteriorating after a play session, we suggest that you take them to the vet immediately.

3. Your Dog Is Sick

Many illnesses make them lose interest in playing. Obesity is perhaps the biggest lifestyle illness that reduces their play drive. As they gain weight, it puts direct pressure on their heart and reduces their ability to move.

Other illnesses like unmanaged diabetes, Cushing’s disease etc. makes them more tired than usual hence they are least interested in wanting to play.

4. Your Dog Is Depressed

Dogs are usually quick to understand if we are depressed but we know very little about canine depression. Doctors and scientists are still researching and updating information on canine depression but there is one thing we can all say for a fact – dogs do get depressed.

The reasons for depression may vary. It can be because:

  • A change in location
  • Rehoming – In your case it can be an adopted dog who isn’t interested in playing
  • The arrival of a new member – a baby or another dog or cat
  • A change in your schedule – it may be because you were home with them all the time and suddenly you got a new job or are no longer able to work from home

If a  dog is depressed, they will react the same way as a depressed person. This means they won’t eat, they won’t play and they will lose their curiosity.

5. They Don’t Understand Your Play Signals

Other times it can be because of you. We usually drum the floor and ask them to come or swing a toy, to encourage them to play. Well, research shows that it only works on 38% of dogs. Dogs usually respond to chasing and being chased better. But then again, a shy dog may not like to be chased.

Reasons Why Your Dog Isn't Playing; Source: Psychology Today
Reasons Why Your Dog Isn’t Playing; Source: Psychology Today

Some pet parents give their dog toys and expect them to just interact which is very unlikely to happen. Dogs enjoy playing with you. When you move their toys around you animate the toy, making it more interesting for them to interact with it.

Some dogs like new toys, just like how some children like new toys. You may notice that your dog loves the new toy for some time until they lose interest. That is usually because they are bored with the toy and it’s time to go shopping.

Sometimes dogs are just moody and it’s okay if they don’t want to play sometimes. But you can encourage them to play by interacting with them more and praising them for playing or for learning the rules of a new game. As fun as fetch may be, it does has a learning curve and we need to be patient with our dogs to learn it. 

We suggest not to use treats while they are playing. Treats put their mind in ‘food mode’ and they lose interest in play. Instead, you can tuck away the treats during playtime and reward them with an extra tug session with their favourite toy.

How playful is your dog and what do you do to get your dog to play? Let us know in the comment section below. We are always eager to know your thoughts.

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About Dheepakh

About Dheepakh

Dheepakh is a dedicated pet parent. His love for his dogs turned him into a pet food enthusiast. He has dedicated all his life to understand pet food nutrition and is eager to learn everyday.

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