Let’s Play! Tips for Including Play in Your Pet’s Day

By on April 10, 2023

To ensure a happy and well-adjusted pet, create an active and playful lifestyle for them. In our productivity-obsessed society, we often lose sight of the importance of “play.” And while animals are naturally more inherently playful than humans, pets’ human-adjacent lifestyles can lead to a lack of active amusement. So how can you encourage your pet to be more playful? See our quick tips for keeping your dogs and cats as active and lively as possible.


Incorporating play into all aspects of your dog’s day is easy. You can start by being playful with food. Stimulate your dog’s curiosity and salivary glands by setting up food hunts or giving them food puzzles and interactive food toys. Hiding treats or kibble around the house can add frolic to feeding time.

Toys are part of a dog’s best life, so find a toy they love and use it often. From frisbees to balls, play with your dog rather than leaving them alone in the yard to play alone. Keep playtime fresh and exciting by rotating their toys. Some pups become attached to specific toys, but the next toy in the rotation could be their next favorite!

Tackle two tasks at once by incorporating training into your dog’s playtime. Instruct them to “sit,” “stay,” or “leave it” during playtime. You can also use training itself as a fun activity. Plus, you can impress your friends and family when your dog shows off their ability to “rollover” or “shake.”

Some dog owners enjoy wrestling or chasing games with their canine companions. However, this type of play can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior, so be aware of the kind of play that is best for your pup.

Turn your daily walks into playtime by letting your dogs sniff their surroundings and meet other dogs. Since dogs are incredibly social, schedule playdates with other dogs or head to the dog park several times a week. This is an excellent way for you to make new social connections too!

Lastly, if you have the time, space, and creativity, consider building a backyard obstacle course for your dog.


Cats receive a bad rap for being lazy, but on average, they sleep about the same amount of time as dogs. Your cats should have abundant opportunities for play during their waking hours.

Just like dogs, you can engage your cat with food hunts. From interactive food toys to food-inspired scavenger hunts, set your cat’s inner predator free at feeding time.

Like the tip above, you’ll find that many of the playtime activities that are recommended for cats are inspired by hunting. Letting your cat chase a laser light or the cardboard tip of the Cat Dancer toy is just another way to simulate the stalk and catch of the predator’s hunt.

Placing bird feeders or squirrel feeders outside a window will also inspire your cat’s inherent hunting gene while bringing you hours of entertainment too. If this isn’t an option, consider playing a cat-focused video of birds or fish on your big screen and watch your cat twitch and twirl in predacious anticipation.

Like dogs, cats love a walk outside. My friends helped their cats acclimate to harnesses, and now the felines receive daily outdoor time when the weather is temperate. Being outside with abundant new sights and smells can stimulate cats’ brains and enhance their mood.

Set up your home environment to accommodate a cat’s playful nature with cat trees, kitty condos, and elevated shelves. I used to frequent a bookstore in Seattle with an entire system of interlocking catwalks and cat tubes throughout the store. If you have the knowledge and space, search for DIY versions of catwalks, and create an architectural wonderland for your kitties and cats.


Adding another pet to your family can go a long way in keeping your current pet active and playful. A depressed or lazy pet will perk up and get engaged when a new animal is added to the family. Research the ideal way to introduce a new pet into your home and let companionship enrich your pet’s life.


Weave playtime throughout the whole day rather than just once a day. Engage your pet in play during commercial breaks or before/after meals. Remember to try and play with your pets on their schedule, not just yours. If you notice your dog is more energetic in the morning than in the evening, arrange to play before you go to work.


The benefits of play and activity are numerous. Play can help prevent boredom or behavior issues, maintain a healthy weight, stimulate the brain, encourage bonding, and amplify your pet’s joy. Plus, it increases YOUR activity level, so you’ll be around to play with your dog for a lifetime.

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