How to Play with Your Pet 101: Do’s and Don’ts

At this point, it’s common knowledge that spending time with your pet can heal your heart! Their adorable and cheeky faces don’t just affect their favorite human. No matter where you take them, no matter who meets them, we’re sure they also get that warm fuzzy feeling and can’t resist petting your beloved friend! 

Playing with your pets might seem straightforward, but in reality, the majority of people don’t know how to properly interact with their furry friends. It’s understandable because animals can’t communicate to us verbally where they prefer to be petted or touched! But if we take our time to learn how to properly communicate and spend time with our furry friends, approaching them and playing with new friends will be easier! Plus, it will help you in understanding how to not overstimulate animals, creating a safe environment for every friend around! 

Why proper interaction with pets is important 

Every pet is unique and special in their own way. Just like humans with unique likes and idiosyncrasies, some furry friends might love to approach new humans and say hi to everybody, while some could feel threatened or scared. Even cats we’ve looked after since they were as big as our palms, despite us being a familiar face, if we touch them in any areas they are uncomfortable with, they might retaliate! 

These things are crucial to understand, especially if a stranger comes to say hi to our furry friends. They might be a stranger, a child, or anyone who’s not too familiar with animals, or some person who has a slight resemblance to someone our pets have had a bad experience with. It only takes a split second for our pets to react to their touch, but it can result in years of trauma for that individual for the rest of their lives.

That’s why approaching animals in the correct way is so important for everyone to be aware of. It can help you play with new furry friends with ease, and bring them a sense of peace from your presence because you’re showing respect for their boundaries! Not forcing them to do things they don’t want to will definitely help in negating the chances of an unpleasant event from happening.

Let’s see what are the correct ways to play with dogs and cats, and what are some do’s and don’t of interacting with our furry friends! 

✔️ How To Play With Dogs 🐶

  • Always ask the walker ✔️ For anyone who meets a dog outside of the house, you’re most likely to meet the person walking them too! They might be the pawrents taking them out for a daily walk, or just a dog walker. Please remember to say hi to the human first and ask if you can touch the dog. Because some friends aren’t used to strangers and might attack! Some pets might have a sign on their pet carrier or their collar but always ask verbally to be extra cautious. 
  • Always approach slowly ✔️ We know you’re excited to meet a cute fluffy friend! But make sure to slowly approach them. Hasty and rapid movements can startle animals, and make them growl or start barking. Stay calm, still, maybe slowly speak to them while you carefully get closer, while waiting for them to come near you as well. 
  • Pet the right places! ✔️ Their head and foreheads might be our go-to place to pet our canine companions, but dogs actually don’t love it. When you’re both not used to each other yet, you should start petting in areas where they can see your hand, such as their chest, their sides, the middle of their backs, or even behind their floppy ears! 

❌ Don’t Do This While Playing With Dogs 🐶

  • Stare ❌ Fixating your gaze doesn’t help when you’re trying to befriend a dog. If you stare, they will probably conclude that you’re trying to pick a fight, or that you are a threat. 
  • Hug tightly ❌ Although it’s hard to resist, you gotta remember to withstand your desire to show affection this way! No matter what breed they are, dogs don’t really love cuddles, especially if it comes from a stranger. Hugs and cuddles can make them feel suffocated and stressed because they can’t escape. 
  • Overstepping! ❌ Boundaries are important for good reason. No matter what you do, if you can sense that the dog is not happy, maybe it can be from them stepping away, looking away, don’t push them any further. Let them be, and respect their wishes! 

✔️ How To Play With Cats 🐱

  • Test the waters ✔️ The basics of meeting a new cat is to see if they react pawsitively to you! Try this by simply pointing your finger around their nose level, as this mimics how cats greet each other with their nose. If they sniff around or perk up, that means you’ve gotten their approval for a pat! 
  • Pet their head ✔️ Cats love it when you rub around their face, chin, forehead, or around their ears. Because it’s where their scent glands are, and where they disperse their smell to announce to their world that this is my human! That’s why they love it when you pet them here. Other than that, you can continue the pets from their head to the bottom of their tail! 
  • Know when to stop ✔️ Even the friendliest cats might start to get annoyed eventually. Too much stimulation can overwhelm them and make them feel unsafe or they can get hurt in that moment. You can notice when it is enough by being attentive to their body language. Is their tail wagging slowly from side to side? Are there any silent growls? Some might even nibble as a warning! Keep an eye out. 

❌ Don’t Do This While Playing With Cats 🐱

  • Forcefully picking them up ❌ Especially with cats you don’t know might result in injuries to both your new furry friend and yourself. Picking them up might scare them and ring the danger alarms in their head. They might claw at you in an attempt of self-defense. We might get startled and then let them go, making them fall, so don’t be forceful with them, and keep an eye out for their body language! 
  • Touch their tummy ❌ Not every cat loves tummy rubs because it’s actually their most vulnerable spot! All of their crucial organs are located in that soft belly. If you touch this area, there’s a high chance you’ll get some backlash from the little one. There are also other areas cats don’t like for humans to touch, this includes the tail and their legs. 
  • Backwards petting ❌ Cats are creatures that are very particular with their fur. The adoration and care for their coats exceed all! That’s why you always see them grooming themselves, and if we pet them in the opposite direction of their fur, they’ll feel uncomfortable and grumpy.

Whether you’re just roaming around and you stumble upon the cutest fur baby with their pawrents or even come back home to your own furry friend, don’t forget to keep in mind all these do’s and don’ts. This is all for you and the pet’s safety and happiness! Another important thing to remember is that, if you see a pet with a human, please always greet the human first before touching the pet! Other than that, maintaining proper hygiene before and after an interaction is also recommended for the health and safety of everyone involved! If there are no bathrooms available, have hand sanitizer on hand for any on-the-whim ear scratches. 

Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind every time you come across a cute furry friend you wanna get to know! Mutual respect, boundaries, and safety should always be a priority in the process of making new friends! 

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