Understanding Why Do Dogs Play Keep Away: A Closer Look

why do dogs play keep away

Have you ever played fetch with your dog, only to have them run off with the toy and refuse to give it back? This behavior, known as playing keep away, is common among dogs and can be both frustrating and amusing. In this section, we’ll explore the reasons behind why dogs play keep away and delve into various aspects of dog behavior, including the fetch game and their general play behavior.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dogs play keep away for various reasons, including their natural instincts and their desire for attention and playtime.
  • The fetch game can influence keep away behavior, and training techniques can help manage this behavior.
  • Understanding your dog’s play behavior is essential in fostering a happy and healthy relationship with them.

The Psychology Behind Dog Play Behavior

Understanding dog play behavior is essential for dog owners to foster healthy relationships with their furry companions. Playtime for dogs is not only about having fun; it also serves a vital role in their behavioral development.

Canine psychology plays a crucial role in dog play behavior. As social animals, dogs use play as a means of communication, learning, and establishing social hierarchies. Playtime provides them with an opportunity to learn and practice important skills, such as reading body language and identifying emotions.

Studies have shown that playtime can improve a dog’s cognitive function, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance their overall well-being. It is also an effective way to prevent undesirable behaviors, such as destructive chewing and excessive barking.

The Importance of Playtime for Dogs

Playtime provides dogs with physical exercise and mental stimulation. When dogs play, their bodies release endorphins, which promote feelings of pleasure and happiness. This makes playtime an effective way to combat stress and anxiety in dogs.

Playing with your dog helps to strengthen the bond between the two of you. When dogs engage in play with their humans, it reinforces their social bond and enhances their attachment to us.

Understanding Dog Play Behaviors

Dog play behavior encompasses a range of activities, including chasing, wrestling, and play-fighting. Understanding these behaviors is essential to ensure that playtime remains safe and enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.

It is important to pay attention to your dog’s body language during play. Signs of stress, such as yawning, lip licking, or growling, should be taken seriously, and playtime should be stopped immediately if those signs persist.

Providing appropriate toys and engaging in interactive play with your dog can help ensure that their play behavior remains safe and fun. Supervising playtime is also important to prevent injury or aggression.

In conclusion, understanding dog play behavior and the role it plays in a dog’s life is crucial for ensuring their overall well-being and fostering a healthy relationship with them. By participating in their playtime activities and providing a safe and enjoyable environment, we can help our furry companions live their best lives.

The Fetch Game and Its Influence on Keep Away

Many dogs love to play fetch, but it’s not uncommon for them to exhibit keep away behavior during the game. This behavior can be influenced by various factors, including the dog’s playtime activities.

During the fetch game, dogs may exhibit keep away behavior as a way to prolong the game or to gain attention from their human companion. For some dogs, playing keep away during fetch may simply be a part of their individual play style.

However, a dog’s playtime activities can also play a role in their tendency to play keep away. For example, if a dog frequently engages in tug-of-war games or other playtime activities that involve holding onto an object, they may be more likely to exhibit keep away behavior during fetch.

It’s important to note that while keep away behavior during the fetch game may be frustrating for humans, it’s a normal part of a dog’s play behavior. It’s important to manage this behavior appropriately through training and positive reinforcement.

In the next section, we’ll discuss practical training techniques to manage keep away behavior in dogs during playtime activities.

Instinctual Reasons for Keep Away Behavior

Playing keep away with dogs is a behavior that is rooted in their natural instincts. Many dogs have a strong prey drive, which is the instinct to chase and catch prey. When a dog plays keep away, they may feel like they are chasing and catching prey, even though the object they are after is not alive. This instinct can be particularly strong in breeds like terriers and hounds, which were originally bred for hunting and chasing prey.

In addition to their prey drive, dogs also have territorial tendencies. Dogs often view objects as their possessions, and when another dog or person tries to take that object away, they may feel the need to protect it. This can lead to keep away behavior, where the dog tries to keep the object out of reach of others.

It’s important to note that while keep away behavior can be instinctual in nature, it can also be influenced by a dog’s environment and past experiences. For example, if a dog was not properly socialized as a puppy or has had negative experiences with other dogs or people, they may be more likely to exhibit this behavior.

Training Techniques to Manage Keep Away Behavior

Playing keep away with dogs can be frustrating for owners. However, with the right training techniques, this behavior can be managed effectively. Here are some tips to help you train your dog to play fetch and reduce their keep away behavior:

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a proven and humane training technique that rewards good behavior. When your dog brings the toy back to you, use a positive tone and give them a treat or praise. This will encourage them to repeat the behavior and associate it with positive outcomes.

Choose the Right Dog Toys

Choosing the right toy can make a significant difference in managing keep away behavior. Avoid toys with multiple pieces or small parts that can be easily broken or swallowed. Opt for durable dog toys, such as balls or Frisbees, that are easy to grip and retrieve.

Teach Basic Commands

Teaching basic commands, such as “drop it” or “leave it,” can help to manage keep away behavior during playtime. These commands signal to your dog that it’s time to give up the toy and return it to you.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key when training your dog. Set aside time each day for playtime and practice. With repetition, your dog will learn that bringing the toy back to you is the expected behavior.

Don’t Chase Your Dog

Chasing your dog during playtime can reinforce the keep away behavior. Instead, stand still and entice your dog to come back to you using positive reinforcement and treats.

By using these training techniques, you can manage keep away behavior in your dog and enjoy a fun and safe playtime together.

Addressing Common Misconceptions About Keep Away

Playing keep away with dogs can be a fun and engaging activity, but it can also lead to frustrating behavior if not managed properly. Many dog owners may have misconceptions about why their furry friends play keep away and how to deal with this behavior.

Myth: Dogs Play Keep Away to be Dominant

One common myth is that dogs play keep away to assert dominance over their human companions. However, this is not necessarily true. In most cases, dogs exhibit this behavior as a natural instinct and a way to engage in a playful activity.

Myth: Playing Keep Away is a Sign of Bad Behavior

While playing keep away may be frustrating for owners trying to retrieve a toy or object, it is not necessarily a sign of bad behavior on the part of the dog. This behavior is often rooted in their natural instincts and can be managed through training techniques and appropriate toys.

Myth: Dogs Play Keep Away to be Annoying

Another common misconception is that dogs play keep away to be purposefully annoying to their owners. However, this is not the case. Dogs may exhibit this behavior simply because they enjoy the game and the attention it brings.

By understanding the reasons behind why dogs play keep away and addressing common misconceptions, owners can better manage this behavior and foster a more enjoyable playtime experience for both themselves and their furry companions.

Importance of Supervised Playtime for Dogs

As we’ve discussed earlier, playtime is an essential part of a dog’s life. It not only provides them with physical exercise but also mental stimulation, contributing to their overall well-being. However, it’s crucial to ensure that their playtime is supervised, especially when playing keep away, to keep them safe and prevent any unwanted behaviors.

Supervised playtime allows you to monitor your dog’s behavior and intervene if necessary. For example, if your dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior during play, you can redirect their energy and provide them with appropriate toys to play with. Additionally, supervision helps prevent any potential accidents or injuries during playtime.

Furthermore, actively participating in your dog’s playtime helps strengthen your bond with them. It provides an opportunity for you to engage with your furry friend, creating a positive and enjoyable experience for both of you. By reinforcing positive behaviors during playtime, you’ll also be able to develop their obedience and training skills.

In conclusion, supervised playtime is vital for ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for your dog during playtime. It provides them with the necessary physical and mental stimulation while cultivating a healthy and loving relationship between you and your furry companion.


In conclusion, we’ve explored the reasons behind why dogs play keep away and how it relates to their natural instincts and play behavior. It’s important as dog owners to understand and manage this behavior to ensure a happy and healthy relationship with our furry companions.

From the psychology behind dog play behavior to training techniques to address keep away behavior, we’ve provided practical and informative insights to help you better understand your dog’s playful nature.

Remember, supervised playtime is crucial for both the dog and their human companion. By actively participating in playtime activities and using appropriate dog toys, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Importance of Addressing “Why Do Dogs Play Keep Away”

By learning more about our dog’s behavior and instincts, we can foster a stronger bond with them. Addressing keep away behavior through positive reinforcement training and appropriate toys can lead to a more fulfilling and enjoyable playtime for both the dog and their owner.

So, next time your furry friend wants to play keep away, remember to consider their natural instincts and play behavior, and have fun!


Q: Why do dogs play keep away?

A: Dogs play keep away for various reasons, including instinctual behaviors, the thrill of the chase, and seeking attention from their owners. It can also be a form of play and a way for them to engage in social interactions.

Q: What is the fetch game?

A: The fetch game is a popular activity where a dog retrieves an object, typically a ball or a toy, and brings it back to their owner. It can be a fun and engaging way to exercise and mentally stimulate your dog.

Q: How does the fetch game influence keep away behavior?

A: Dogs may exhibit keep away behavior during the fetch game because they enjoy the chase and want to prolong the playtime. It can also be influenced by their natural instincts and previous experiences with the game.

Q: Are there instinctual reasons for keep away behavior?

A: Yes, keep away behavior in dogs can be rooted in their instinctual drives, such as their prey drive and territorial tendencies. Dogs may engage in keep away to protect their resources or to mimic hunting behaviors.

Q: What training techniques can help manage keep away behavior?

A: Positive reinforcement is an effective training technique to manage keep away behavior. By rewarding your dog for dropping or returning the object, you can encourage them to engage in more desirable behaviors during playtime. Using appropriate dog toys that are engaging and rewarding can also help redirect their focus.

Q: What are common misconceptions about keep away behavior?

A: One common misconception is that dogs engage in keep away behavior solely to frustrate their owners. In reality, it is often driven by natural instincts and can be managed through training and understanding. Another misconception is that all keep away behavior is problematic, when in fact, it can be a normal part of play for dogs.

Q: Why is supervised playtime important for dogs?

A: Supervised playtime is crucial for dogs as it ensures their safety, prevents potential conflicts, and allows for teaching proper socialization skills. It allows owners to intervene if any undesirable behaviors, including excessive keep away, arise and promotes positive interactions between dogs and their human companions.

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