I was house cleaning this am … with half an ear on the radio and caught the very tail end of a author discussing play. I am pretty sure he was talking about human play – but you all know me well enough to know my mind went to dog play right? 

A few of my friends and my students have commented recently that play is HARD for them. 
This makes me sad, for them of course,  but also for their dogs. 
So,  a couple of thoughts … 
1. Search play on this blog – I’ve been writing about it a very long time (including a post on 50 ways to play with your dog)  
2. Be observant – watch your dog in playful moments and THINK about how you could engage in that play without shutting them down, or distracting them. 

Games with less teeth action for me please!
3. Be spontaneous – if you are walking past your dog and the time seems right to play – go for it – play can last mere seconds and be successful and if it isn’t natural or easy for you I truly recommend playing for 10 seconds or less … leave you both wanting MOAR! It’s much easier to build up to longer and longer success than to try to keep a game you don’t quite get going …
Maybe we should play now eh Thea?
4. Be imaginative … our imaginations get squelched as we age .. sigh … 
What do I mean by this? I mean just because you haven’t seen somebody do it doesn’t mean you can’t, try it. Maybe imagine yourself as a dog and think about what would get you happy and playing.  Test something one way, then test it another – wave a toy up like a bird taking flight, then twist it along the ground like a snake minding it’s own business. 
 Dora quite likes dress up 
5. Be open – don’t get stuck in YOUR definition of play. Play is a partner’s game. No one partner gets to say what’s RIGHT and either gets to say it’s WRONG. So if you hate a game your dog loves (teeth on a pant leg leaps to my mind – thanks puppy fosters) it’s ok to not play it … but it’s not fair to then insist that ruffling your dog’s fur backwards is a great game if they don’t like it;  A little mutual respect goes a long way here. 

Singing is one of Sally’s favourite games, Sigh, 
What makes play hard for you?