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It's 'Bark To School' For Pup Parents, As Half The Nation Found To Be Skipping Doggy Playtime
It’s ‘Bark to School’ for pup parents, as half the nation found to be skipping doggy playtime

New research reveals that pup parents aren’t playing enough for optimum mental and physical stimulation

BARK launches the BARK to School Playbook for daily dedicated playtime, as the dog-centric company launches nationwide at Pets At Home

With the seasons changing, and two thirds (62%)[1] of pups and parents set to be spending less time outside in the colder months, it’s never been more important for playtime to be taken seriously. BARK, the #1 dog company worldwide (voted by dogs), has arrived in the U.K. and is on a mission to become gamechangers of play with the BARK to School Playbook.

The survey of 2,000 British dog owners found that over half of pup parents (56%) aren’t playing with their dogs for the recommended amount of time. Whilst owners recognise that 15-30 minutes of dedicated daily playtime is needed, over a quarter (28%) admitted only playing with their pup on 3 days of the week or less.

To help make dogs as happy as they make us, BARK has created the BARK to school Playbook as they launch nationwide at Pets At Home. With the help of canine behaviourist Shelby Semel and veterinarian Dr Margo, the playbook includes five play games based on BARK’s five archetypes of play. Whether The Destroyer, The Tracker, The Pursuer, The Investigator or The Team Player, each game has been devised to focus on specific materials, scents and play styles that will excite each and every dog.

The playbook games are designed for:

  • Short 5–10-minute bursts
  • Playing 2–3 times a day
  • Simplicity and fun
  • All dog sizes and breeds
  • The ultimate bonding experience
  • Keeping dogs engaged with multiple levels of difficulty

Regular dog play is fundamental for mental and physical stimulation, as well as training. Without play, dogs are more likely to suffer from up to 22 behavioural issues[2] including anxiety and aggression. There are also many benefits for owners, alongside strengthening their relationship with their pups, play can help lower blood pressure, elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, and reduce depression.

Bonding and relationship strengthening was recognised as the most common benefit of play within the survey (60%), however almost half (49%) of owners were not aware that play also supports mental stimulation and training (64%).

Canine Behaviourist Shelby Semel comments:

“Playing games with your dog is valuable for both mental and physical stimulation, and also for strengthening the Dog to Human bond. You can bond further by learning dog body language; signs of being happy and playful Including a play bow, circular wagging tail, and mouth open and relaxed.”

 The survey also found that many dog owners considered walking (82%) to be a form of play, alongside watching TV (28%). Play games that are proven to be most stimulating for dogs, such as scent games (12%), dog agility courses (8%)  and digging (11%), were played least by owners.

Dr Margo, Veterinarian at BARK comments:

“Scent games are great for reducing stress-related behaviours, whereas agility courses help increase endurance and physical fitness. That’s why we’re excited to be launching the BARK to School Playbook, as we want to encourage owners to increase playtime through fun and simple games that offer multiple benefits.” 

BARK is now available nationwide at Pets At Home.


[1] 3Gem Survey of 2,000 dog owners (15/09/2023 – 20/09/2023)

[2] Bristol University survey of 4,000 dog owners 2014

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