Learn what you can do to keep your pet in the best shape possible.

By Jennifer Aldrich
Updated December 30, 2020
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Playtime is one of the most healthy activities you can do with your dog. Not only does your pup enjoy playing games with you, but they're also getting exercise. (Oh, and it's fun for you, too!) Pups who play often are much less likely to develop problematic behaviors, like chewing, digging and excessive barking, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Daily exercise is essential, especially before you leave your dog alone at home for a while, like when you go to work. You're probably playing with your dog to some degree, but to ensure they're getting enough stimulation, follow these easy tips.

Woman playing with her puppy in the grass
Credit: Bogdanhoda/Getty Images

1. Set Aside Time to Play to Improve Behavior

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. With cats, most people underestimate how playful they actually are. Engaging with pets when they initiate play is also important, so try not to turn them away when they bring a toy your way.

2. Rotate Their Toys to Increase Stimulation

Rather than having all of their toys available anytime, rotate out a few each week to increase the stimulation pets get from them. Or 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.

3. Use Food as a Reward

Thanks to their natural hunting instincts, dogs and cats really like working for their food.  

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