Monday, 19 May 2014

The Value of Active Play for Pets and People

Ensuring that your dog or cat gets adequate exercise can reduce the risks of obesity and can ensure that your pet stays fit and healthy throughout his or her life. Engaging pets in active play is a good way to reinforce the bond of love and trust between you and your companion animal and can provide hours of entertainment for both of you. As a pet owner, you can use a number of different tools and toys to keep your dog and cat happy and active. Here are some of the most useful strategies for engaging in active play with your pet.

The Feline Perspective

As predators, much of the cat’s instinctual behavior is oriented toward hunting and pouncing activities. A number of toys are available to help you engage your cat and retain its attention in a healthy and productive way. Fluttering toys that move with the wave of a wand are ideal for cats that enjoy leaping and springing toward their prey; strings, balls and dragging toys are more suited for earthbound kitties. Some cats respond to laser pointers that focus a pinpoint of light on walls and carpets. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even train your cat to do tricks on command with a little patience and a lot of kitty treats in reserve. Whatever your chosen activity, your cat will enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and a closer relationship with you.

Beyond the Ball

While playing catch or fetch with your dog can be a valuable way to burn off excess energy, most dogs require additional exercise to stay fit and healthy. The daily walk is a good way to establish your position as the leader and alpha member of the family pack. A walk can also provide your dog with a sense of purpose and can allow greater opportunities for socialization in a neutral territory. Dog parks are a great option for many owners. Caution must be exercised, however, to ensure that your dog is ready for friendly interaction with unfamiliar canines. It’s a good idea to keep your dog on a leash for the first few visits to determine the overall atmosphere and risk level of the park and to create the necessary boundaries for yourself and your pet.

Training the Brain

For both dogs and cats, presenting puzzles can provide an added degree of challenge in the home environment. Hiding a favorite toy under a blanket or behind a pillow can stimulate curiosity in both cats and dogs. Don’t forget to reward your pet when he or she accomplishes the desired objective. By creating barriers and challenging your pet to overcome them, you can reduce the boredom sometimes felt by housebound dogs and cats and can increase their mental acuity to a considerable degree.

Scheduling regular times for active play with your dog or cat can ensure that these pets stay fit and healthy. Playtime can also be a bonding experience for you and can reduce undesirable behaviors by redirecting that energy in a much more positive way.