When I was a child, I remember going to a friend’s house, and his family had this incredible Border Collie as their family dog. This dog had so much energy, he always wanted to play and absolutely loved to play fetch. To me, this was the coolest thing I had ever seen!
One impressing thing that I remember, was my friend biking to the park and having his dog run behind him, without even needing to use a leash. Then they had lots of fun while playing fetch together for what seemed like an eternity.
This short yet very inspirational experience left me in “awe” and I desperately wanted a dog. But it wouldn’t be until 15 years later that I got my first Border Collie… I named her Chase because I wanted her to chase balls.
Once I brought Chase home as a puppy, I immediately noticed that she was extremely timid and scared of everything. I had to constantly reassure her that everything was going to be okay and that she was in good hands.
But one thing that I promised myself at the time, was that I would do everything possible to help Chase associate massive pleasure with toys.I did many different exercises with her, and today she absolutely loves toys … even more than treats!
So in this short e-mail, I will talk about the ways with which I accomplished this, so that you can have the same kind of success with your dog.
I think the most important thing that I did, was to make a BIG deal whenever Chase played with any of her toys. I literally cheered like I had won the lottery or been selected on the “Price is Right” whenever she started playing with her Kong, tennis ball or stuffed animal.
She quickly realized that playing with toys got her lots of attention from me, and so the behavior of playing with the toys grew and became a way of life for her.
Then… I made playing with the toys even more exciting! I triggered her chasing instincts by moving the toys on the floor so that she had to run after it to get it. I remember one time tying a rope to one of her plush toy and dragging it across the room for her to chase – it was so much fun!
But the key to this exercise … is that I never let her decide when the game was over. I would always end the game while my dog was highly engaged in playing with me. So that I knew next time we played together, she would put even more energy into it.
I would always end the game by saying “That’s it!” .. and run outside to changer her state of mind. This way she associated me taking the toy away as something positive and fun … going outside with dad!
Well, now it’s your turn! I guarantee that if you practice this simple exercise for a week that you will see a difference in your dog’s enthusiasm with playing with toys. Give it a try … It’ll only take 5 minutes!
Power Quote: “The quality of the relationship with your dog depends on the time and energy that you put into it.” – Jean Cote