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  • Writer's pictureMary Puppins

Top Tips For Playtime With Your Small Breed Dog

Updated: Feb 22

Child playing with small dog

Your small dog loves playtime with you!

As your small breed dog enters the 3-7-year old range, their physical and mental faculties are at their peak.

However, the challenge lies in keeping them engaged. This is where both mental and physical play come into play to provide the necessary stimulation.


“There is nothing more joyful than seeing your dog’s face light up when you initiate playtime. Whether it’s a game of fetch, tug, or chase, your dog will appreciate the attention and the opportunity to have fun with you. Playing with your dog is also good for your own well-being, as it can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost fitness.” - The Humane Society of the United States, animal protection organisation


Here are some proven methods that work wonders:

Canine Agility

Engage your furry family member in canine agility activities.

These include navigating through obstacles, leaping over jumps, and running through tunnels.

The key is training your little dog to follow your commands, such as sit, wait, and recall, before starting. You can either join a local agility centre or set up your own course using cones, sturdy containers, tunnels, and jumps.

Start slowly, using treats or toys to guide them through. In no time, your dog will build confidence and you both will have a great time.


Consider involving your small breed dog in flyball, a team sport involving four dogs and their handlers.

Each little dog takes turns racing down a lane with hurdles to retrieve a tennis ball from the ball box, and then returns over the hurdles. The team with the fastest time wins. The British Flyball Association offers valuable information about nearby groups and events.

Interactive Feeding

Transform feeding time into a mental and physical exercise by making your dog work for their dog food.

Instead of the regular bowl, create a trail of treats around the house and garden for them to track. Make it even more exciting by hiding treats in specific spots. Most dogs are highly motivated by food, so turn mealtime into an exercise routine for their mind and body.

Interactive Toys

Numerous interactive dog enrichment toys are available, like the popular rubber KONG toys, interactive puzzles, and treat-dispensing toys. Rotate their toys regularly to keep them engaged. Rather than leaving toys out all day, allow them playtime with each toy separately. This prevents boredom and curbs destructive behaviour or resource-guarding behaviour.

Diverse Dog Walks

Elevate your small breed dog's daily dog walks by altering your routine.

Enter the park through a different entrance, take the opposite route, or hide treats along the way for them to discover. Explore new paths to introduce novel sights, scents, and sounds. Dogs thrive on exploration and using their sense of smell, so opt for areas with appealing scents, like woodlands. You can also join a local dog walking group for added companionship.


“Playing with your dog is not only fun, but also essential for their health and happiness. It helps them burn off excess energy, stimulate their minds, strengthen their bond with you, and prevent boredom and behavioral problems.” - PDSA, animal welfare charity


Why is playtime important for small breed dogs?

Playtime is vital for small breed dogs because it gives them physical exercise, mental stimulation, socialisation, and bonding with their owners.

Playtime can also prevent boredom, frustration, and behavioural problems in small breed dogs, who may have less space and opportunities to explore and interact with their environment.

How to play with your small breed dog safely and appropriately?

Choose toys and games suitable for their size, age, and personality to play with your small breed dog safely and appropriately.

You should also avoid rough play, such as wrestling or tug-of-war, that could injure or overexcite your small breed dog.

You should also monitor your small breed dog’s body language and signals and stop the play if they show signs of stress, fear, or aggression.

What are the best toys and games for your small breed dog?

The best toys and games for your small breed dog are those that are fun, engaging, and challenging for them.

Some examples are balls, squeaky toys, plush toys, puzzle toys, interactive toys, and agility equipment.

You can also use treats, praise, and affection as rewards and motivators for your small breed dog during playtime.

How to teach your small breed dog new tricks and skills through play?

To teach your small breed dog new tricks and skills through play, you should use positive reinforcement, such as treats, praise, and clicker training.

You should also break down the trick or skill into small steps and reward your small breed dog for each successful attempt.

You should also keep the training sessions short, fun, and consistent, and avoid forcing or scolding your small breed dog if they make mistakes or lose interest.

How to make playtime more fun and rewarding for your small breed dog?

To make playtime more fun and rewarding for your small breed dog, you should occasionally vary the toys and games you use and introduce new ones.

It would help if you also played with your small breed dog in different settings, such as indoors, outdoors, or at a dog park.

It would be best to involve other people or dogs in the play if your small breed dog is comfortable and friendly with them.

You should also praise and cuddle your small breed dog after playtime and tell them how much you love and appreciate them.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

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mary puppins expert small dog breeds uk

Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc

Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.



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