Real reasons to paws and purr with your pet
Playtime is not just for fun. It’s an important part of a dog or cat’s development and has a place with you right into their senior years. Before we give you good reasons to play 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 who have a relatively stable home instead of the wild to challenge them. If your pet is a pack animal, they appreciate interaction even more.
Interactive play with a human helps a young animal develop soft and hard skills (like sociability and soft bites) as well as self-defence abilities, makes her feel pampered, and know her place in the hierarchy of your household. She might get away with romping with the other pups in the litter, but she needs to learn just when and where it’s okay to romp with the human mommy. Disciplined play will teach her 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 a device like a smart phone to occupy them, they can become lazy. Engaging them in play gets the heart rate up and the legs pumping.
Playtime provides essential mental stimulation, as much as it seems fun and 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, but 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! 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.
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