Playing with Your Dog

A pet's imagination is boundless, and animal play is spontaneous and whimsical. Animal games are without many rules and mainly just for pleasure, although much of animal play is meaningful, teaching life's lessons, and enjoyment seems to be the only theme.

When playing with your pet, use your imagination as well. Make up a game, follow his natural antics and build on his "variations on a theme" concept.

Safety First

Know what objects are safe as toys. Consult your veterinarian if you have any doubt. Like toys for a human toddler, pet toys shouldn't be too heavy for your pet to handle but they should be large enough so they can't be swallowed. Also, make sure they're not made of a toxic substance.

Dogs like chew toys, so safety of teeth and tummy are important. Cats may consume small toy parts as well, so be cautious of very small attachments, strings, buttons and bells. Birds are sensitive to certain materials, which may be toxic, so again, consult your veterinarian if you have any doubt. Small mammals may be sensitive to certain materials as well.

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Though play and fun are synonymous, don't exercise your pet more than he can easily endure. Monitor young children with pets; they're a great play combination but they'll probably tire each other out. Teach young children to be careful and gentle, especially when playing with small or exotic pets.

Jogging, bicycling and other strenuous human activities may be too much for your pet. Be conscious of overheating; remember to take time for shade, rest and plenty of water. Smaller animals may tire or just get bored. A rest period, along with "recess," is a good idea. With all pets, make sure the activity fits the animal; games and recreation for people might not be appropriate for a pet. For adults and older pets, simpler and less strenuous games are better. Know your pet, his likes and his limits.
Playing with your pet isn't only fun for him; it'll also mean lots of love and laughter for you, too. No matter what the game, play is fun for both pet and owner and helps strengthen the human-animal bond.

Whether you have a dog, cat, bird or even a rabbit, you'll find that play is a pet's second nature. Kittens, puppies and young animals love to play with their littermates. Wrestling, scrapping, mock fighting – it's always playtime for pet "toddlers." Puppies love to wrestle, chase and fetch balls and play tug-o-war; they never seem to run out of energy! Kittens love to chase butterflies, leaves, and anything that moves. Adult pets enjoy play, too. It's stimulating and provides needed exercise, keeping them healthy, fit and trim. For you, playing with your pet helps develop a bond with your beloved companion.