How to Support Your Small Pet’s Instinctual Playing Behaviors

Written by Oxbow

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May 10, 2019🞄

Small pets are playful by nature, and supporting this behavior is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a pet parent. In addition to the fun that play provides for pet and owner alike, there are numerous health benefits associated with daily play. Read on to learn more about how to support your pet’s play behaviors in fun and enriching ways.



Five Quick Tips For Supporting Your Pet’s Playing Instincts

Keep playtime safe and natural

Your pet’s safety should always be your #1 focus at playtime. Focus on chews and toys that are made of all-natural materials, including hay, natural fibers (e.g. sisal), and untreated wood.

Rotate items regularly for enriching play

Variety isn’t just for mealtime! Provide options at playtime to keep pets mentally stimulated and physically active all day. Place play items throughout the habitat and rotate regularly to keep your pet engaged.

Make play an interactive part of every day

Your pet will enjoy playtime even more when you engage in the activity with them. Use your pet’s favorite toys to interact during playtime. Toys with a noise component are particularly fun for interactive play.

Combine chews and toys with other everyday staples

Create a game of “hide and seek” to make playtime even more enriching. A fun and easy way to do this is by hiding your pet’s favorite toys in his hay, habitats, or in any other fun location.

Provide ample space to roam and play

The more space your pet has for play, the better! Pets with access to large play areas will be more likely to be physically active and less prone to obesity. Set up your pet’s space with obstacle courses involving toys, play centers, and more.

Quick Tip: Stimulate your pet’s senses to encourage enrichment! Try offering toys that roll, toys that make noise, and toys with a variety of textures to excite their different senses throughout the day.

Three Quick and Easy Steps for Providing an Enriched Life for Your Pet

1. Support their instinctual behaviors in fun and challenging ways. Outfit habitat and play areas with natural chews, toys and hideouts. Rotate these items regularly to keep pets engaged with their surroundings.2. Build a loving bond with enriching play every day. Your pet is social by nature and loves interacting with you. Set aside time every day for active, enriching play incorporating their favorite toys and games.3. Choose enrichment items made from pet-safe materials such as woven hay, untreated wood, natural fibers (e.g. sisal), and apple sticks.

Benefits of Playing Include:

  • Offers mental stimulation throughout the day
  • Promotes physical activity that helps prevent obesity
  • Prevents boredom-based behaviors
  • Helps build your bond with your pet

Unique Features of Enriched Life Natural Chews and Play Centers:

  • Innovatively designed to meet playing instincts of small pets
  • Designed to encourage mental and physical enrichment
  • Wide assortment provides fun and stimulating play
  • Play Centers are customizable with replaceable toys
  • Safe, natural materials include hay, untreated wood, and natural fibers

Just like the right nutrition, daily opportunities for playing, hiding, chewing and exploring are essential to your pet’s health and happiness. Learn more about how to enrich your pet’s life here.

More Fun Resources

All About Nutritional Enrichment Handout 

All About Enrichment Handout

Games with Pets! Handout

Forage Wise Foods - NEW!

With the perfect balance of enriching variety and delicious nutrition, Forage Wise is made to engage your pet's foraging instincts with a fun blend of shapes, colors, textures, and flavors. Every piece of our Variety Smart recipe is formulated to deliver essential nutrition.