How to Help Your Dog Who Doesn't Want to Play

Dog who Doesn't Want to Play     by Dur-e-Sabih   |Updated 07-05-2023

Dogs are social creatures who love to play. However, sometimes you may come across a dog who doesn't seem interested in playing. If you're wondering how to play with a dog who doesn't play, there are a few things you can do to encourage them to join in the fun.

A black and white Shih Tzu who doesn't want to play is looking at the camera

Importance Of Playing With Dogs

Though often thought of as merely fun, playing with dogs has a number of benefits. For one, it provides exercise for both the dog and the owner. Dogs require a significant amount of daily exercise, and playing is one of the best ways to meet this need.

In addition, playtime can help to strengthen the bond between the owner and the dog. As dogs rely heavily on nonverbal communication, playful interactions can help them better understand their human companions.

Finally, playing with dogs can teach them essential skills such as self-control and socialization. Play can be an enriching experience for owners and dogs when done correctly.

Why Does Your Dog Not Like to Play?

There are many reasons why your dog may not want to play.

  • He is older and has less energy
  • He is feeling unwell or in some type of pain
  • He may have never had the opportunity to play before
  • He's a new rescue and hasn't had enough time to bond with you.

Before trying some of the ideas below, consider why your dog is reluctant to play.  Have him checked out by a veterinarian to assure that he is not in pain or has some other underlying medical condition that would prevent him from participating in play.

Some new fosters or rescue dogs may have never had the opportunity to play so it is not unusual that they may not know what to make of play.  Socialization and training can go a long way to encouraging play in these dogs.  Most important, establish a bond with your dog first.  If he doesn't want to participate in play at first, find something that he enjoys doing such as taking walks, cuddling with you, or just resting near you.  Sometimes even gentle grooming, brushing and combing can be an excellent way to bond.

How To Play With Dogs, Who Doesn't Want to Play?

Playing is essential, as we discussed earlier. You should spend time with your dog and involve it in enjoyable activities. However, some dogs prefer not to play because they are unfamiliar with your family or dislike participating in a particular activity.

For your convenience, we have put together a list of activities you can do to play with your dog, who isn't exceptionally playful.

1. Find Toys That Interest Them

One way to get a dog to play is to offer them a toy they are interested in. Dogs have different preferences when it comes to toys, so try offering a variety of options until you find one that your dog seems interested in; once you've found a toy that your dog likes, try playing fetch or tug-of-war with them.

These activities are usually enjoyable for dogs and can help get them started playing.

A small Shih Tzu puppy is surrounded by an assortment of toys

2. Physical Activities

Another way to get a dog to play is to engage in physical activity with them. Dogs love to run and chase, so try playing fetch or Frisbee with your dog.

If your dog isn't interested in these activities, you can also try going for a walk or run with them. Getting your Dog moving will often get them in the mood to play.

3. Find Out What Kind Of Play Your Dog Enjoys

Dogs are playful by nature and love to interact with their owners. But not all dogs enjoy the same type of play. Some dogs like to chase, while others, prefer to tug and war or chew.

Pay attention to his body language and energy level to determine what kind of play your dog enjoys. If he's barking and wagging his tail enthusiastically, he's probably up for a game of fetch.

If he's chewing on his toys or growling softly, he's probably more interested in playing tug-of-war. And if he's pouncing on you or your family members, he's probably in the mood for a play fight.

By observing your dog's body language, you can figure out what kind of play he enjoys and ensure that he has a fun, fulfilling playtime.

A man is taking two Shih Tzu dogs for a walk

4. Be patient And Keep Trying!

Dogs are social creatures that enjoy playing with other dogs and people. However, some dogs may take longer to warm up to play than others. If you have a dog that seems hesitant to play, be patient and keep trying.

Eventually, your dog will be playing with you in no time. There are a few things you can do to help encourage your dog to play:

  1. Try to get down on their level by sitting or lying on the ground. It will help make you seem less intimidating.
  2. Offer them a toy or treat to create a positive association with playing.
  3. Be sure to praise them when they do start playing.

With a bit of patience and effort, you'll be able to enjoy playtime with your furry friend in no time.

5. Never Punish or Force Them

It's important to remember that you should never punish your dog for chewing on things - this is a natural behavior that you can redirect positively. The best way to do this is to start with soft praise or a treat for any interest your dog shows in toys.

Once they start playing with the toy, continue to praise them and give them occasional treats. It will help create a positive association with the toy and encourage them to keep playing.

If your dog chews on something they're not supposed to, remove it and give them one of their approved toys. You can positively teach your dog to redirect its chewing behavior with patience and consistency.

6. Interact With Them

About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and Smart-Knit-Crocheting.

A pack of Shih Tzu dogs are interacting with their owner

Getting involved with your dog's playtime is a great way to bond with your pet and build trust in you. You can do this in a few different ways, depending on your dog's personality and preferences.

If your dog is energetic and playful, you can join in the fun by playing fetch or tug-of-war. If your dog is more gentle and subdued, try offering treats while playing with its toys.

Getting involved with your dog's playtime not only is an excellent way to bond, but you will have fun and give your dog some much-needed exercise.

There are various ways to get involved, so find the one that best suits you and your pup. 

No matter what approach you take, getting involved in your dog's playtime is a great way to create lasting memories and strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.

Dog Who Doesn't Want to Play Conclusion

Remember that not all dogs like to play the same way, such as Shih Tzu prefer a different way than a Labrador. Some dogs prefer gentle play, while others may enjoy more rough-and-tumble games. It's essential to watch your dog's body language and cues to see what type of play they're interested in.

If unsure, ask your veterinarian or a professional trainer for guidance on interacting with and engaging them, and don't give up! With a bit of patience and effort, you'll be able to get them playing in no time.

Dog Who Doesn't Want to Play
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Author Bio:

Dur-e-Sabih provides ghostwriting and copywriting services. Her educational background in  Accountancy helps her in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development, finance, and digital marketing. 

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