Each and every one of us loves to have a dog that loves to play with its toys. Playing offers dog’s mental stimulation and a way to burn off its extra energy which may otherwise lead to destruction of household objects moreover playing is a great way to build the bond between you and your dog.
Just like humans, playing and doing activities they enjoy increase a dog’s quality of life. Many dogs, however, have trouble playing with toys.
There are several reasons a dog may not have learned to play. One of the primary reasons is due to lack of early socialisation. Dogs don’t play with their toys simply because no one has ever engaged in a game with them. Another reason is that their instincts may drive them to do other things.
You can start off with a soft praise or a treat for any interest your dog shows in toys. You can even hide a treat in the toy (many toys are designed to do this). Your dog will quickly learn that toys mean that they’ll receive a treat, and we all know they love that.
Not every dog is going to like every kind of game. Try to choose games that best suit your dog’s personality. A retriever is likely to enjoy a game of fetch. Take the toy and throw it. If your dog runs after it, run with him and grab it before he can get to it, and repeat teasing him and playing with it. Another way to do this is to attach a cord or fishing line to the toy, so that when you throw it, you can pull it back away from the dog before he can get to it. Continue the above for about 2-3 minutes, and then take the toy and put it away.
Make the toy move around and wiggle it near your dog while you make fun. Some dogs won’t play with a toy unless you are engaged too – that’s why they keep returning it to their owner. Start to play with the toy yourself, throwing it in the air and play-hiding it from your dog. This is a great way to build a stronger relationship with your dog, so get goofy and start playing. Once your dog begins to paw or grab the toy, let him have it. Then start the game again by encouraging your dog to return it you. Be warned – it’s likely they’ll be less inclined to do this and you may start a tug-o-war with them (rope toys are perfect for this)! Soon your dog will find the toy fun and exciting and you’ll have a playmate.
There are many other ways to try and get a dog to be interested in a play. You can try making your dog a bit “jealous” by acting very interested in a toy while playing “keep away”. As mentioned in previous point you can also use toys that you have already stuffed with food. Sometimes teaching a dog to play involves more than simply slowly introducing him to the idea. If your dog is having trouble playing, make sure he knows the basic commands involved in playing the game then only it will be easier for your dog to grab the whole idea involved in the play.