Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Dogs need more than just food, water and love. They also need opportunities to explore and learn so they stay mentally and physically sharp. The more you know and the more you do will keep your pet in the best shape possible.
Play improves motor skills, stimulates cognitive growth, and is a huge part of dog development. Plus, playing with your pet has benefits for humans as well.
Research shows that dog owners walk an average of 22 more minutes a day. Aim for 30 minutes of activity twice a day for your pet. The close interaction between humans and pets during play has been shown to improve overall behavior, especially in dogs. Engaging with pets when they initiate play is also important, so try not to turn them away when they bring a toy your way.
Rather than having all their toys available all the time, rotate out a few each week to increase the stimulation pets get from them. You can hide a few favorite toys in a room you can close off for a few days, then open it and let your pet rediscover them. Also squeeze in more play by stashing a few "couch potato" toys that you can use while watching TV. Thanks to their natural hunting instincts, dogs actually like working for their food. It's also great mental exercise. The reason is, when offered a choice between food that's provided or that requires effort to eat, animals prefer the later. There are plenty of quality toys that can engage a pet’s mind and creativity.
Part of this blog was based on research by Alex Johnson, senior designer and animal enrichment specialist with Purina