Thursday, October 21, 2010

Give Your Dog Toys He Will Love

How often have you seen it?  You have a bucket full of toys for your dog, but he still wants to chew on your hairbrush.  Or, you have a bucket full of toys for your dog, and he has to pull out every single toy and arrange them in some order on the floor.

As you spend money on new hairbrushes (or shoes, or furniture), and as you constantly pick up your dogs toys, only to have him remove them again, you start to wonder, “Why can’t my dog just play with one toy?  Why can’t he be happy with what he has?”  You’ve spent hundreds of dollars on the most expensive toys, but he just wants your shoes.  So what do you do?

1)       It’s not necessarily about how awesome you think the toy is.  That spinning, moving, light-up toy that you just spent twenty dollars on isn’t as cool to your dog as it is to you.  Your shoe, however, well, it smells like you.  Doesn’t that make the best toy?  When you pick out a toy for your dog, think of what your dog likes.  Does he like bouncy balls or squeaky stuffed animals?  Does he prefer something chewy that he can gnaw on, or does he really like the sound of a good crunch?  Find out what he likes best.
2)       Do NOT display all the toys at once.  Just like a child with too many toys, your dog will get bored with the toys he has.  He wants something new!  Something exciting!  So, hide the majority of your dog’s toys.  Keep one or two out for him to play with and hide the others.  After a few days, put those two toys out and bring out two more.  Do this every few days.  If you rotate the toys, your dog will stay more interested in them.  The thought process will no longer be, “Oh, that’s just my squeak toy…boring!”  Instead, it will be, “Oh wow!  I thought I’d lost that toy.  I’m so happy I found it.  I forgot how cool it was.”
3)       Play with your dog’s toys.  How do you expect your dog to enjoy the toys if you’re not enjoying the toys?  Interact with your dog.  Play tug or fetch.  A fun game on rainy days is hide and seek (you hide the toy, your dog finds it).  Make your dog see the toy as a really fun object.
4)       Give toys that offer a reward.  Puzzle toys (like the Kong or Squirrel Dude) aren’t only fun to chew on, they offer a tasty treat.  You can change the treat (peanut butter, cheese, sausage, etc.) without changing the entire toy.
5)       Put up the distractions.  No matter how awesome your dog’s toys are, your shoe still smells really good (and so does the garbage).  So, put it away.  If you don’t trust your dog at all, crate him.  Put a toy in his crate with him (preferably a puzzle toy), so he learns it’s ok to chew on that.  Otherwise, just keep him away from the “forbidden” objects.

Otherwise, have fun with your dog and his toys.  Keep in mind that you do not have to spend hundreds of dollars on toys.  Just find toys your dog will love, and keep him interested.  Good luck!

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