Have you got a puppy or even a dog that’s having trouble playing with toys? Maybe you’ve bought some new goodies for them and they aren’t really using them. Instead of simply wasting the money by throwing them away or forgetting about them, you can train your dog to play and enjoy them. Toys are great for dogs as they help them learn and keep them entertained and social. You might have heard the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Old dogs CAN be trained, and if you want to teach your dog how to play and enjoy so they can continue to develop, then you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’re going to look at a few issues to do with dogs and toys. Why might your dog not want to play with the toys its got? And what can you do about it? Most dogs love to play with almost anything, and will enjoy exploring new things and places. But not all of them work well when introduced to new things. What if they simply don’t understand the toy, or aren’t interested? There are some things you can do to help. So what are they? Let’s have a look…
How to train a dog to play with toys
Toys can be really beneficial to your dog’s development but what if our dog has trouble learning to play with new things? Many dogs do actually struggle with this. But what can you do about it? Training your dogs to play with something new isn’t actually as hard as you might think. You can teach your dog to enjoy most things, especially playing, with the right training.
Start by picking the right toy. If your dog hasn’t played with anything complicated before, then keep it simple. Pick a toy that’s relatively easy to understand. Remember, to start with the dog isn’t going to have free access to the toy. In other words, it isn’t going to be able to play with the toy any time it likes. You should introduce set training times for the dog to get used to the toy. Start with shorter periods so the dog doesn’t lose interest or get bored and impatient. You can spend longer after you’ve been doing it for a while.
Your dog might struggle with the first few toys, but once it has learned how to play with them, it should pick up other things much more easily, even if they’re completely different. Even if your dog doesn’t pick up additional toys any more easily, you’ll know what to do to train it because you will have learned the process correctly the first few times.
To start with, keep the toy somewhere the dog can see but can’t touch it or play with it. This will help your dog get used to the idea of the toy.
Good toys will be durable and can be thrown about. Try something that doesn’t roll like a ball to start with. Start by asking your dog about the toy, make sure he knows what you’re talking about. Communication is key when training a dog like this, so keep chatting to your dog and make sure it knows what you’re talking about. Point and prompt if necessary. Introduce the toy to your dog in a friendly and playful manner. Make it something to look forward to and something with positive associations.
Start playing with the toy yourself and showing your dog what to do. Thow it around, and tease your dog with it. Get it looking forward to having a chance to play with the toy itself. Start by throwing the toy and seeing if the dog runs after it. If it does, grab the toy before the dog can. This will make the dog want it even more. You can also attach a cord to the toy and “fish” with your dog while pulling it away. Make sure none of this upsets your dog, but it should be enjoying itself when you play like this. Do this for a few more minutes then put the toy away.
Make sure you stop playing before the dog gets bored or tired. Next time you get the toy out, your dog should be eager with anticipation. Do this a few times a day for the next few days, but make sure there’s enough time between sessions for the dog to relax and get a bit bored (not too bored). Anticipation for the toy should increase and be a real high-point for the dog.
Eventually, you can start letting your dog play with the toy slowly. Allow access for small amounts of time in increments. As the dog gets used to the toy, reward it with treats if it plays well. Eventually, by doing it this way, he will learn to love the toy and play with it properly. Be as playful as you can with the toy and dog to make it a fun period, and so that the fun is associated with the toy. Make sure you end playtime when the dog is happy and don’t let them play for too long so that they get tired and bored.
If your dog still won’t play with the toy after this sort of training, you can try putting something tasty on the toy to incentives it even more. This shouldn’t be necessary with most dogs and most toys if you’ve done the training properly, but it’s something you could use if you’re desperate. Hopefully you can start enjoying playtime with your dog and having plenty of fun with the right toys and helping your dog develop in the process.