Playtime is not just for fun. Playtime for dogs and cats is an important part of their development and has a place right into their senior years.
Before we give you good reasons to introduce more playtime with your pet, consider that self-expression isn’t reserved to humans – cats and dogs need it, too. Mental, physical and emotional stimulation has a positive effect on your domestic mammals.
If your pet is a pack animal, they appreciate interaction even more.
Good reasons to play with your pet (at any age)
Interactive play with a human helps a young animal develop soft and hard skills (like sociability and soft bites). It also teaches self-defence abilities and to know their place in the hierarchy of your household. He/she might get away with romping with the other pups in the litter, but they need to learn just when and where it’s okay with humans. Disciplined play will teach this.
Play supplies essential exercise as well, especially for cats and small dogs who stay indoors a lot. Left to their own devices, and without proper stimulation or regular movement, they can become lazy. This can lead to weight and joint issues, among others. Engaging them in play gets the heart rate up and the legs pumping.
Playtime provides essential mental stimulation, as much as it is fun and – often – funny. A cat, thinking hard about how to pounce on your wiggling fingers, is enjoying a good workout for the brain as well as the body. Find-the-food games are great for the mind (and can also mean a more relaxed doggy by dinnertime)!
Playing helps deepen your shared relationship, too. Time together, one-on-one, builds trust and familiarity, and you’ll learn each other’s language along the way, often without even realising it. The bonding that happens during play is a powerful one.
Play can be a problem solver. Animal behaviour is often mysterious. If your pet is demonstrating behaviour issues, with a little attention, and perhaps the input of a professional and a ball (or stick, or string) you can work out what’s wrong and make it right! “Behavioural problems like spraying and scratching the couch are simply your cat’s way of communicating with you that something is wrong with their environment,” advises I Heart Cats. “It can take a bit of detective work to get to the bottom of what’s going on, but many behavioural problems stem from an environment that isn’t stimulating enough. Playing with your cat more just might put an end to some undesirable behaviour!”
That’s it, folks. A few really good reasons to pull out a toy or two and get busy with your favourite animals. The best part? It’ll make you feel good, too. Playtime is for cats, dogs AND humans…
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