What Is Your Dog’s Playstyle?

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on July 31st, 2023

At the dog park, you’ve probably noticed that not all dogs play alike. Some are rambunctious, while others like to think carefully about choosing a playmate. And there’s always at least one that doesn’t really want to play at all.

The fact is, every dog has their own personality. And by learning more about your dog’s playstyle can be an important way to keep them healthy and happy. In this article, we’ll cover some of the more common forms of play in dogs plus some tips on how to maximize the fun!

The Champion Wrestler
Wrestling is one of the most common forms of play between dogs. It usually starts with a polite invitation, such as a playful bow or an exaggerated romp around. This lets the other player know they’re just goofing around and would like to start roughhousing.

From there, wrestlers will mouth each other around the neck, shoulders and ankles. They’ll also use their body weight to knock each other around. Healthy wrestling can sometimes sound intense, but it should include breaks and self-moderation. Behaviors like biting, pinning the other player down and not respecting the other player’s space when they break away will need human intervention.

If this is your dog’s playstyle…then wrestling with like-minded doggos can be a great form of exercise and mental stimulation. We would recommend scheduling doggy play dates with one other familiar dog at a time so that you can have an easier time playing the part of the referee.  

The Marathoner
This is the dog with the “catch me if you can” attitude. They’ll do anything to get other dogs to chase them, relying on tactics like a play bow, gentle nips, barking or even stealing toys. 

And when they find the right partner, well, what a joy to watch them go! Equally matched marathoner dogs will run and run and run until one of them gets tired.

If this is your dog’s playstyle…then giving them space to run will be essential to their overall health and wellbeing. But, you’ll want to keep an eye on them. Marathoner dogs can sometimes forget where they are, putting them at risk for getting lost. Or, they may overdo it because they just don’t know when to quit. If your dog has a buddy who is also a marathoner, this is a great way to give them the outlet they need. We would recommend getting them together in an enclosed area and having a distraction on hand to call them back in for a break about every five to ten minutes. Marathoner dogs also make great running and cycling partners.

The Retriever
It’s not only the Labs and the Goldens that are hard-wired for retrieving! Many dogs enjoy playing a game of fetch. The good news is, fetch can be a wonderful way to bond with your dog and provide them with the mental satisfaction of performing a task.

If this is your dog’s playstyle…Keep in mind that the repetitive nature of fetch can put them at risk for injury or overexertion. So, games should be limited and broken up to give your pup time to recover. Fetch can also lead to conflicts with other dogs, so it’s best not to bring your dog’s favorite fetch toy to the dog park. If you’re looking for fetch variations, try playing with a flirt pole or frisbee, or introducing your dog to dock diving.

The Tug-of-Warrior
You’ll know that you have a Tug-of-Warrior if your dog goes crazy over any kind of rope toy. And while there used to be ideas of this game encouraging aggression or dominance in dogs, experts today are confident that a good game of tug is actually healthy for your dog. It can teach them proper bite control and give them a good muscle workout. 

If this is your dog’s playstyle…Make sure that you teach them how to play safely with you before they play with other dogs. Then, when they’re ready to take on a doggy playmate, monitor the game to make sure it doesn’t get too intense. It’s also good to switch up your dog’s tug toys to keep the game interesting.

The Sideline Coach
Some dogs don’t want to actually jump into a game of wrestling, tug, or fetch. Instead, they want to stay off to the side and watch intensely, usually while barking. Some, especially herding breeds, may even try to break up the play between other dogs. 

If this is your dog’s playstyle…You might have already learned that high-energy settings like dog parks and doggy day care aren’t a great place for them. So, consider forms of play that are better suited to their personality. This might mean one-on-one playtime with their best doggy friend. Or, activities that satisfy their working drive, like obstacle courses or scent tracking.

The Quiet Spectator
There’s always a doggo at the park or doggy playdate who simply doesn’t engage. They may find a nice shady spot to lie down and watch the action from afar.

If this is your dog’s playstyle…Don’t give up! The fact is, play is an important part of a dog’s healthy lifestyle. And most dogs do have a play drive. It may be that they just haven’t been exposed to the right activity, game, playmate or toy that gets that tail wagging. If it turns out that your doggo really isn’t the playful type, make sure that they still get some form of exercise, such as walking or swimming.

Now that you know your dog’s playstyle, how will you get moving today?

Whether you’ve got a playdate with a another furry friend or will be heading to the nearest lake for a game of water fetch, make sure your pup stays safely in the car with BreezeGuard Screens. After all, playtime can be so exciting that your doggo might want to get a headstart before you’ve even parked the car!

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