Playing with your pet is important for many reasons. It can keep your pet fit and healthy, or help them lose weight. Play is mentally stimulating and can help prevent boredom, aggression, and neurotic behavior. It’s a wonderful way for you and your furry friend to bond. And, of course, some of our pets’ more adorable and ridiculous behavior happens while they are at play.
Adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity a day, and cats need at least 15. That activity can come in many forms, from walks and jogs (yes, cats too!) to playing fetch and tug of war, even to swimming (cats less so on this!) and sports.
It’s also important to keep your furry friends with plenty of fun when you aren’t around to play with them. While some pet owners are able to get companions for their dogs and cats, this doesn’t work for every person or every pet. Other options include interactive toys, such as puzzle toys for dogs, motion sensitive toys for cats, and toys with hidden food like Kong for both kinds of pets. You can also leave activities such as boxes and paper bags for cats to play in, or set up safe outdoor areas for pets to play. It’s important to give pets plenty to do and room to roam so that they don’t resort to destructive behavior, seperation anxiety, or compulsive behaviors like over-grooming.
Another way you can spend time with your pet is training. It may seem like work to us, but to pets training is fun, mentally engaging, and an opportunity for praise. With time, patience, and understanding how your pet thinks, you can teach dogs or cats to do almost anything. Even cats can learn to walk on a leash, use the toilet, sit and roll over. Dogs can be trained to do the usual tricks, and even to participate in fun extracurriculars like flyball and agility courses.
Don’t forget to introduce new toys and keep up variety in all you do. While pets benefit from routine and structure, it never hurt to shake things up sometimes. This is why cats benefit from being able to look out the window at birds and leaves, and why both kinds of pets love fresh toys. Keeping it new and interesting will make playtime more fun for both you and your pet.