Does your pet struggle to play on their own?
Here is a very short video of Puss.
She came to me on 11th May and had no idea or interest on how to play on her own.
From background information I had been given, her Mum had always played with her.
Gradually over time, and tuning in with her, we have managed to get her to this point above. She sometimes needs me to start the ball spinning round, but several times she has confidently shoved the ball round and started playing by herself with this…
…including this morning when I was working with a couple of people online for a Rahanni Activation!
Luckily as we started, she stopped, but she had shoved this toy all the way across the living room playing with it!
They can learn, it just takes time to build their confidence.
We started off with a ping pong ball being thrown when she was having a zoomie moment, and like us, she was so fired up, she batted it around.
I continued with that, so she could feel how fun it was to do this for herself, and have fun, and play and run.
I still have to throw that for her, but I know she will eventually do it herself, when the fancy takes her.
It’s about letting her understand she can be independent and still have fun.
Often, it’s a good reflection of us too.
We must learn to play on our own, and satisfy/fulfil our inner child’s needs/wants. Looking outside of our self to another to fill that need will always end in tears…or a toxic relationship coupled with codependency!
I used to struggle to play, let alone play on my own, but over time I have worked on that, and she is definitely parallel with me on this journey, helping me, help her, and vice versa.
My creative side is now beginning to come back in, and I am definitely having more fun, with just me. That is healthy, that is empowering. I do not want to ‘need’ someone. If I have someone in my life, I want it to be because I want them in my life, not that I need them!
So if your pet struggles to play on their own, gradually work with them and build that confidence.
Manage your own expectations and desire – it won’t happen overnight!
Work with them when their energy is high, when they are having those zoomie moments and want to discharge the energy.
And praise them for any sign they are beginning to play on their own, even if it is just showing a small amount of interest in the toy, a sniff, a tap of the paw for instance.
I use praise with Puss a lot, as I am pleased she is making progress for herself. I also use it with myself too!
The morning after I recorded this video, and a few nights after as well, I was in my bedroom in bed. I heard her bash the ball around on her own and I was so happy I cannot tell you.
I remember saying ‘YES!’ and clenching my fist, as it meant so much to hear her start playing on her own, and to trust in her own ability to make herself happy, and have fun without someone around.
Baby steps. Take it bit by bit. Show praise and encouragement, and know they will get the hang of this when the time is right for them, not us.
Break down the steps of playing with a toy and praise each step they learn. I call them behaviour experiments, just taking one behaviour you want, and breaking it down into small and manageable chunks.
Remove your expectations of what toys you want them to play with. As pet owners, I am sure you can all resonate with buying a toy, and them playing with the handle, or the box it came in.
Some cats will like the toys with bells in, some won’t. Some will like the crinkle tunnels, some won’t. They are all individual. What your previous pet liked, is not necessarily what your current pet will like. Observe and notice the things they do love.
For Puss, I was chucking a silverine stick (an alternative to catnip) around for her, and it happened to land on a pile of plastic carrier bags. She went crazy, rustling and paws going in every direction. That’s when I learnt she may like a crinkle tunnel. I went and bought one and yes she does. So, observe their likes and dislikes, get to know them well.