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Why Playing with Your Dog or Cat is Important

Border collie holding a TSC tennis ball in his mouth.

Playtime is important for the physical, mental and emotional health of both pets and humans. Playing with your cat or dog helps both you and your pet get exercise, relieve anxiety and strengthen the bond between animal and human.

Just a few minutes per day of play makes a huge difference. As little as 15 minutes a day is highly rewarding to your dog or cat and can help relieve boredom and reduce destructive chewing, scratching or bad attention-seeking behavior. Here are some suggestions for how to choose a dog toy or cat toy.

Dog Toys

  • Pay attention to the size of the toy when selecting a dog toy. Avoid small toys for large dogs, as they can easily be swallowed. Similarly, you don't want to give a large dog toy to a small dog breed or a small puppy. Giving a large dog toy to a small dog will not be enjoyable for your pet. Tractor Supply Co. carries a huge variety of toys for all dog breeds and different size dogs.
  • How does your dog chew? If your dog is a heavy chewer, get a toy that will stand up to heavy play. Tractor Supply Co. carries a selection of Kong brand dog chew toys that are great for dogs that are notorious for destroying toys quickly. If your dog does not chew very much or not at all, consider a plush toy or a softer toy.
  • Watch your dog's play behavior and try to figure out whether the dog likes to "chase and kill" or just likes to chew. Dogs that enjoy chasing and killing "prey" will often bite down on the toy and shake their heads vigorously back and forth. Choosing a dog toy that responds well to motion by either flopping around or making noise may be a good choice of toy for these types of dogs. Chew toys that hold up to long periods of biting and ripping may be better for a dog that is content to lie quietly and chew on something.
  • Does your dog respond to sound? If you find your dog gets excited over hearing a squeak, consider a dog toy with a built-in squeaker.

Cat Toys

Cat lounging on board

Like dogs, different cats enjoy different types of play. Depending on its personality, a cat may prefer realistic-looking "prey" such as fur-covered mice, rats or cat toys resembling other types of small animals, and the cat may not be interested in playing with toys that do not look the part. Other cats may be entertained for hours by a rolling ball or the sound of a bell jingling. Here are some more tips for selecting a pet toy for your cat:

  • Not all cats respond to catnip.
  • If your cat does not respond to one type of toy, try something completely different. For example, if you have a realistic-looking mouse toy, try a simple jingle ball or streamer. Some cats respond better to motion, others to sound and others to the sight of "prey".
  • Use caution when playing with any toy on a string with your cat. Do not leave the string toy on the floor or within reach of your cat. The string could become tangled and cause harm to cats or other animals.

Visit your local Tractor Supply Co. store to shop our selection of dog toys and cat toys. And remember, leashed pets are always welcome!