The Benefits of Playtime for Dogs and Cats

What Benefits do Pets Get from Play?

The answer to this is direct and simple: what benefits don’t they get?

Play plays a main role in your pet’s physical, mental, social and emotional development. In fact, when young, play is practice for life. Did you know kittens stalking and pouncing on toy mice are learning to hunt?

It also provides many other benefits for your pet, including building a healthy body. Like children, your pet needs exercise to increase muscular strength and agility.

In addition, it creates a healthy state of mind through mental stimulation, tackling behavioral problems from destructive tendencies to attention-seeking antics.

What’s more, play strengthens the bond between pet and owner. If you want your dog or cat to love you more, play with them!

What to play

Games such as fetch, tug and chase should satisfy your dog’s instinctual needs. For your food-motivated pooch, why not use a toy that dispenses treats to spark his interest? Fill up a toy with treats and let your canine tracker seek them out. On the other hand, if your dog is battling the bulge, you can toss a ball and reward him with praise or a pat when he brings it back to you.

For cats, the most enjoyable games are those which simulate the chasing and capturing of prey. Felines love to follow moving objects, so you can play with yours by trailing a cat toy behind you. Simple homemade solutions such as blown-up paper bags, lengths of string, Q-Tips and large scrunched-up balls of foil are cheap, cheerful and feline-friendly.

While puppies and kittens love to play, adult animals will also participate given the chance. Senior pets can be inspired to partake in a little gentle play, such as rolling a ball on the floor or playing hide and seek.

Training through games

Using play as a reward for good behavior is a great way to train your pet. How about getting your dog to sit or lie down before you throw a ball? This helps you control your dog when he’s excited.

For cats, food scattering is an effective method of training your cat’s natural ability to hunt and sense of smell. Rather than feeding dry food in a dish, try scattering it around the garden or lounge and allow your feline friend to search for it.

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