Play is massively reinforcing for our dogs and we love using toys to initiate play! If you want to boost your dog’s play skills check out our top tips below. We’ll start with…..
Training Tip 1: INITIATE CHASE USING FOOD!
If your dog is a real foodie, before introducing a toy, lets initiate chase using the thing your dog loves – FOOD!
When we use food, we tend to deliver it straight to our dog’s mouths so things can become a bit static!
Get your dog moving for his food! This will help with play desire later down the road when you introduce a toy!
One of our favourite games is where you gently restrain your dog, bowl the food out and let him go and chase after it! Make it super fun and super exciting!
Training Tip 2: TOY LOVE!
To build play desire, you have got to start off with a toy that your dog loves!!
Think about the bit they grab on to, what will be attractive to your dog?
Think about the length of the toy; some dogs feel too pressured when playing up close to begin with, having a toy with a longer handle is fab for building play without putting the pressure of proximity into the mix at the start.
We adore the Chaser Tug that our friends over at Tug-E-Nuff make as a starter toy! It has everything a dog wants! A nice big area to bite on to with a long handle! Perfect!
Training Tip 3: The game is with YOU!
When working on building desire in play, we suggest having that special toy that only comes out when you would like to initiate a game. When the game is over, the toy goes away.
If your dog is used to and gets excited by playing with toys on his own you can see why you may be having the struggle of building play motivation!
For now, pop the toy box in the cupboard. Think of it as inspiration not deprivation! For now your dog can interact with bones, chews, kongs etc for enrichment.
Training Tip 4: CREATE A BUZZ!
Before getting the toy out of the cupboard, or where ever you have stashed it, create a bit of a buzz with your dog when you go to get it!
“Wow, look where I’m going’ ‘Oh my goodness, do you want to play with the thing!’ Make getting the special toy out an event to build excitement! That way your dog will be excited in anticipation that a super fun game is about to start with you!
Tip 5: SHORT & SWEET!
To keep motivation and desire high, keep your play sessions super short! We’re talking 30 seconds maximum!
End the game with your dog wanting more! We know its hard to stop when you can see your dog is having so much fun, but that can quickly change to them not being as engaged! End them game with your dog on a high!
Tip 6: GET ANIMATED!
When playing with your dog you’ve got to move! You have got to animate that toy to make it something your dog wants to chase and engage with! Keep that toy on the moving!
Getting your mechanics right is all part of learning the art of play, but don’t think too hard on it! Relax, let yourself go and enjoy the moment! Have fun and really focus your attention 100% on that game with your dog!
Read more of our handy Thursday training blogs HERE.