Getting dogs interested in toys

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by iris, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. iris New Member

    Hi all,

    I have a new puppy (13 weeks) I'm trying to get interested in toys. She's doing well playing with them on her own, but I'll be darned if I can get her to play tug with me.

    I have another dog who unfortunately was raised in a kennel for his first 9 months before I got him, and he is very shy. He is not at all interested in toys.

    I am looking for suggestions on how to get these two more motivated, the puppy to play tug with me, and the second one (a Havanese, about 2 years old) to play with toys at all. Thanks for your suggestions.

  2. Jean Cote Administrator

    Hi there! :)

    Do they show any interest in the toys? I hope they are not scared of them! :)

    LOL... My husky has never been keen on tugging, but has recently showed HUGE interest since I have started reinforcing the behavior. Here are some tips:

    • Keep one *special* toy which is used for playing only, store it in a safe place so that the dog cannot get to it, unless you are training/playing with it. If you leave the toy on the floor every day, it's kind of like driving the same car every day, it gets boring!

    • Reward/Reinforce your dog when he shows interest in the toy. At first a simple sniff or even a look at the toy could earn him the treat. Also you should speak to them in a cheerful way, dogs pick up on your emotional states and will react positively. The trick is to click & immediately reinforce at the peak of the behavior, when they are completely into it.

    • Use their instincts at your advantage! Tie a rope around the tug toy and drag it around the floor, their chase instinct will kick in, and you can use that to click & reinforce! If it doesn't work with a toy, try a grocery plastic bag, those are always fun. :)

    Your main goal is to link pleasure with the behavior of tugging, so it should always be fun and exciting! Give them jackpots when they have a breakthrough like picking it up in their mouth or pulling on it.

    Hope this helps! :great:
  3. CollieMan Experienced Member

    The puppy: In about three weeks or so, you're puppy will be teething and so I'd be willing to bet that it will really be happy to play tug games then.
  4. iris New Member

    The puppy chews toys and chases them a little, but hasn't retrieved yet and if I'm holding a toy I can't get her to latch onto it.

    The little Havanese just has no interest at all.

    Thanks, Jean... I'll try your idea of tying a rope to a toy and dragging it around. I need to go purchase that "special" toy. I need more toys anyway -- never enough! I'd like to rotate toys in maybe three batches.

    CollieMan, I hope you're right. She just seems too gentle a little soul to do it. Her whole litter was very laid back, according to the breeder. She had a poodle litter at the same time. She put the two litters together and all the standard poodle puppies clawed at her ankles and jerked on her shoelaces, but the doodle litter just smiled and laid down. So is it even in her?
  5. CollieMan Experienced Member

    My pup is now approaching 19 weeks, and started teething two weeks ago. She went from little to no interest in tugging games to them becoming her favourite. I think it helps to relieve their gums, as well as dislodge the teeth. One tooth fell into my hand yesterday as we were playing tug.

    Of course, with teething, comes the side-effects -- they don't want to let go of the toy so easily! :dognowink: I'm sure everything will be fine. That said, some dogs never really take to tug games. All you can do is keep the tug toys available and keep encouraging it. It's a great bonding game.
  6. Jean Cote Administrator

    I still believe it's all in how you introduce it! And you can always use the command to get your dog to release the tug toy!

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