• Beth Oleson, Marketing Director

All work and no play…

Play is fun, sure. But it also has an important role in the lives of both dogs and cats – and in your relationship with them. If you want a pet that’s well behaved, doesn’t act like a hyperactive nut job, and is closely bonded with you, making sure they get enough play will get you a lot farther than you might think.  First, let’s get this out of the way: it’s active play that really makes a difference for pets. Active play is play that you are actively engaged in with them (hence the name): even something as simple as fetch is active play, because you are a critical part of the equation. It takes more time and effort than just making sure there are toys around the house or the yard, but it’s totally worth it. This one’s obvious, but still important: play provides great physical exercise! You may have heard the saying “a tired dog is a good dog,” and it’s really true. A dog that has gotten enough exercise won’t be turning its pent up energy on your furniture or shoes. And while we tend to focus on the physical aspect of play more for dogs, it’s just as important for cats. In fact, because play can be an indoor cats’ only source of physical activity, it’s even more important to make sure they get that exercise. Play also provides mental stimulation. Toys and activities that make your pet solve problems or hone their skills keep them busy and keep boredom low (another thing your furniture and shoes will thank you for). This can mean working on puzzle toys or seeking out hidden treats or even just learning and perfecting new tricks. For cats, even the cuddliest of whom are natural-born hunters, active play is their way to stalk, catch, and “kill” to their hearts’ content. It’s an activity that is in their DNA and needs an outlet and having a physical “adversary” – not just a laser pointer – is critical. Like training, play also strengthens your bond with your pet. It’s an engaging, fun way to work together, focus your energy on the same task, and communicate with your pet. Every time you build on your “pack” energy with your dog or cat, you reinforce that you’re family. And that bond is actually a really special one, because it’s rare for mammals to play into their adult years – but both dogs and cats do with their humans. And finally, play is good for your pet in the long run. A pet that has a robust exercise and mental stimulation routine is more likely to stay mentally and physically sharp as it ages. Will play cure disease and solve all of life’s problems? No. But if something so easy (and fun) can give your pet more comfortably, happy, healthy years, that is certainly time well spent. Got pet care questions? We’re here to help. Contact us at 859-873-5491 or manager@woodfordhumane.org.

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