After picking up one of pretty much every single toy at the pet store, you get home to find that Buddy wants nothing to do with them. He gives you a blank stare, runs off, and grabs one of your shoes instead. Who else has been here? If you answered yes, then you're in luck! All you need is a little training and encouragement, and your pup will be playing in no time.
1. Replace whatever Buddy usually chews on with a new toy. If he tends to gnaw on your sofa cushions, startle him with a high-pitch "eh" sound, guide him off the couch, and put a toy in his mouth instead. You're replacing the behavior you don't want with a behavior you want to encourage.
2. Get excited. Sounds simple enough, but making a big deal and having a little party when Buddy plays with his toys is important. He loves making you happy -- look how much his tail wags when you walk in the door. By patting him on the head and praising him for playing with his toys, he'll be more likely to do it again.
3. Fill it up with treats. Sometimes your fur-baby may just need a little bribe to play with his toys while you're making dinner. Many durable dog toys are made of rubber material, giving you a perfect spot to hide some treats. He'll have to work hard to get the food out, keeping him busy and simultaneously teaching him to interact with his toys.
4. Play with him. Don't use toys as a replacement for you. Buddy adores you and wants to interact with you. Simply plopping him in a pile of toys and walking away won't do the trick. If he seems bored with his toys, show him the ones that squeak or throw that ball across the yard so he can see it bounce. He won't know all of the fun things his toys can do unless you show him and play alongside him.
Pick up a variety of durable dog toys. Every dog is different, has different preferences, and may interact with toys differently. For instance, Ruby only plays with tennis balls, but Buddy might prefer toy bones or squeaky toys. If your pup is food motivated, keep them busy by feeding them their dinner inside a hollow toy. Fill up the toy with kibble and a touch of peanut butter to seal it in. They'll learn to love that toy and will run to get it when dinnertime comes around. Even if you have a big stash of toys, they don't all need to be out all the time. Keep their mind working and feed their curiosity by rotating toys every night. Before you head off to bed, pick up the toys they were playing with at dinner and replace them with something different. Your dog will be less likely to get sick of their toys this way.
Watch your fingers when playing with your canine pal. They may unintentionally nip your hand if your fingers get in the way during a play session. If this happens, don't yell. Just leave them with their toy and walk away. Yelling can scare your dog, making them think that you think playing with toys is bad. You'll have to start your training all over.
When introducing a new toy, make sure you supervise your furry friend in the beginning. If they shred it apart, they could choke on some of the small pieces. Quickly take away broken pieces or toys that are missing parts.