CVC Highlights: Interactive play: Essential for pets and people

Work more fun into your histories—ask clients how they play with their pets! In exploring their answers, you can help owners find new ways to enrich their pets' environment and to interact with their companion animals.
Oct 01, 2005

Amy R. Marder, VMD, DACVB, Animal Rescue League of Boston, Boston, MA 02116.

Amy R. Marder, VMD, DACVB
Like food and shelter, animals need play. When taking histories from clients during routine examinations or visits regarding their pets' behavior problems, remember to ask clients whether they play with their pets. I find that when I ask owners, "Do you play with your pet?" they almost always say, "Oh, yes!" But when I ask, "How do you play with your pet?" many respond, "Well, I pet him."

You should be able to teach clients specifically about appropriate play and the many options they have for interactive play and environmental enrichment. Take some time to investigate the opportunities available to your clients and their companions—from Flyball (dog relay racing), Rally-O (rally obedience), dog parks, dog camps, doggie dips at local pools, cat play dates, and animal-friendly housing design, to Busy Buddy toys (Premier), DVDs produced for feline audiences, Buster Cubes (Kruuse A/S), Home Alone (AussieDog Products), and catnip- or bacon-scented bubbles.

By asking about play and recommending fun ways for your clients' dogs and cats to play, you'll not only win further respect from clients but you'll also markedly improve the quality of life for both people and their companion animals.