How Can I Get My Dog To Play?

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by michellegretz, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. michellegretz Member

    Kane, my 'Alaskan' is a rescue we took in in August. His first time in a house was the night we brought him home. He has make tremendous progress but he will not play with people. My rotti just had ccl surgery so he is pretty much on bed rest for 8 weeks and my lab is old and stubborn and will notbplay with Kane. We had a fourth dog Bailey but a friend now has her and so Kane is left with nobody to play with. I've bought toys, I've tried balls, stuffies, treat toys, anything I could possibly think of and he will not play with me.
    He follows me everywhere and loves when I give him affection, but only me. He allows my husband to greet him when he gets home or wakes up but that's about it, unless he's offered a treat.
    But he cuddles on the couch with me, lays in the kitchen when I cook, outside the bathroom door when I shower, he's MY buddy but he seems so unhappy and bored. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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  2. Maura Well-Known Member

    I think he just doesn't see humans as play mates. If he chases things, go outside and throw toys for him to chase. Not all dogs will chase, though, which pretty much rules out fetch. How about finding things? Leave him inside and go outside and place large food treats in easy to find places, like an Easter egg hunt. Bring him outside and point to each food item with "Kane, find" (or search, or get it). At first, you'll have to touch the food with your finger, then after a few of those, point very close, then farther away. At some point you should be able to point in the general direction and have him go look. Dogs understand a point, they point with their nose.
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  3. michellegretz Member

    Oh that's a great idea!! He won't chase anything but a running dog, but searching for treats is something he just might try.
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  4. threenorns Well-Known Member

    here's something that worked great for dandy - when i got him, he was "nose blind": unless he physically saw where it landed, he was unable to find a piece of sardine!

    get some oil - straight up veggie oil will do - and scent it with a few drops of something. i used sardine oil for the game, but i used a mix of onion, garlic, and oregano for a warning/boundary marker.

    drip the treat-scented oil in a trail throughout your yard, interspersing a little nibbly treat every now and then. at the end of the trail, leave a jackpot treat - a pile of treats or a substantially larger piece of something or his toy or whatever. in the winter, it's even more fun bec you can leave the treats at different levels requiring him to actually dig down for them. this is really good as the basis for searching - when i lose my daughter, i tell dandy "find saari!" and he'll track her through the house or the store and find her. we don't do this as much now that she has a cell phone but i still do it the odd time to keep his hand in. it's also a great way to keep him occupied and entertained when he's home by himself. in the house, leave treats at different levels - get him accustomed to looking on top of things and behind things, not just on the floor and under things.

    then teach him the flip side - when he smells "this" oil (choose a really obnoxious scent), he's to back away from it/avoid it/turn around/whatever. this is great for invisible fencing - i used this to stop dandy from crossing the bridge separating us from a pack of very unfriendly goldens and a hyper poodle.
  5. 648117 Honored Member

    Will he chase you if you run? maybe you could just run around with him for fun?

    Holly loves scent games too (y)

    You can clicker train a dog to tug if it doesn't know how (some dogs don't).
    Holly tugs at home (after a bit of work increasing the value of the tug toy) but she wouldn't anywhere else so I started to give treats for tugs, if she does some good tugging at the start of obedience class then she gets a treat so now she is getting more and more excited about tugging outside of our property and eventually I will hopefully be able to use it as its own reward. To do this you can first click/treat for the dog just looking at the tug toy, then touching the tug toy, then putting mouth on tug toy, then a bit of pressure with teeth, then little pull etc until the dog is tugging.

    I think there are a few methods to teach fetch but if you dog is food motivated then you can use that. What I did with Holly (she is not a natural fetcher and she still doesn't love it but she can do it) is got a tennis ball and cut a slit in it, then I let her watch me put a treat into it and then dropped the ball. Holly couldn't get the ball out herself straight away (it probably wouldn't have taken her long to figure it out though) so I picked it up and squeezed the ball to release the treat so that she could see that she needed to bring the ball back to me to get the treat out. Once the dog is doing this you can throw the ball further and then start to fade out the treats.

    Also, maybe your dog would enjoy chewing, Holly seems to get a lot of pleasure from chewing so if you feel you dog is unhappy maybe he would like a good chew toy (if you don't already have some).
  6. michellegretz Member

    I've been trying all sorts of things.
    Scent games are not happening I used dripping from a roast beef. But he doesn't even acknowledge it unless I walk around and show him where the jackpots are. (His very favourite, he lays in front of the stove everytime I cook one) but I'm going to keep trying as he appears to enjoy just following me around the yard.
    I put some peanutbutter in his kong (that he doesn't chew) and got him to chase me around with it and when he catches up to me he gets to lick it but that only lasts for 5a couple minutes and he loses interest. I even just left the kong on his blanket but he didn't touch it again.
    But then on Saturday my lab passed away and he has just been moping around looking so sad. It breaks my heart.
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  7. threenorns Well-Known Member

    aw, please accept my condolences! :(

    is your other dog food-motivated at all? what about a laser light? does he chase that?

    something else i'm getting pdq is a remote-control car (then i'll have to teach dandy not to eat it) bec he went so hyper when he saw it it was like going back in time to when he was at his worst. he was lunging so hard trying to get the car (dude was playing with it in a parking lot) that i was honestly concerned he'd snap his collar.
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  8. Amateur Experienced Member

    We play "smell it find it"inside too ... maybe less distract being indoors will help ... I also hid treats on the hubby - may get him to respond to other people more.

    Maybe your pup doesn't know how to play. WHen we first adopted Raleigh at 3 and a half, he had never had a rawhide or kong etc. It was sad and wonderful to see him watch our Whisky at work and eventually to figure out what to do with the darn thing ! Can you find/borrow another dog to play with and let him see you interact playing with another dog ?

    Try playing with him by doing things for him - like doesnt know its play - i.e. when he comes to you you push him and his butt through your legs then you run away ... when he comes close again you do it again. I think when they see that it pleases you and makes you laugh they get enjoyment from it as well.

    I also read somewhere that you should play with the dog toy yourself ... make it seem like you are having the bestest time. Then put it away and try again another day. Dont invite him just let him watch you - maybe his curiosity will make him try it out too.

    Good luck
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  9. DevonW Well-Known Member

    Try enticing the dog to play tug has some really awesome tug toys that can get even the most reluctant to play dogs to play with you. Especially the tugs that have real fur in them or the ones you can hide treats in. Keep it low to the ground and move it around quickly by their feet and make fun noises.
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  10. michellegretz Member

    Caught him playing with a toy this morning!!!!!!!! I've been randomly just tossing it up and catching it when i sit down to watch tv or whatever, for 2 or 3 days and then putting it away and this morning I left it on his blanket and a couple minutes later he was tossing it around and chewingon it. I'm so excited! Lol thanks for all your suggestions we'll keep working with him :)
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  11. threenorns Well-Known Member

  12. blacknym Experienced Member

    Keep working on it!! It will take time but you will get there!
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  13. ackerleynelson Well-Known Member

    As you are telling that your dog has got a surgery and hence he needs much care. If there is no one there to play with him and he likes to play with you then don't ignore this as your love and affection will not only help him to recover soon but also his behaviour would regarding you will not become worst as in this time pets get irritated as they feel lonely.

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