How to Help Your Dog Love Her Toys

You find the perfect toy for your dog and can't wait to get home to surprise her with it. Then, like with the other new toys you've brought home in the past, she takes one sniff and walks away. What if the problem is with your presentation? Try this simple strategy for a different result.

how to help your dog love her toys

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Many dogs aren’t impressed with toys until their human engages them in a game; dogs are typically more interested in toys they associate with play time with their owners
  • If your dog doesn’t seem too interested in the new toy you just brought home, give her 10 or 15 minutes of your undivided attention, and play with the toy together
  • For both your sakes, try staying in the moment with your dog when you play with him; resist the urge to multi-task and try not to let your mind wander to other topics or your ‘To Do’ list
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What’s your dog’s favorite toy? Chances are it’s the one you play with together. Runner up may be a food-stuffed toy he can work on when he’s bored, or a chew toy that gives his jaws a good workout.

Many pet parents are disappointed when their dog doesn’t show much interest in the toys they carefully select, purchase, and bring home for them. There’s usually some initial excitement when you first unwrap a new toy and toss it to your dog. But when you turn to leave the room, he drops the thing like it’s hot and follows you instead.

This is, of course, a clear sign that for furry best friend, it’s not really about the toy — it’s about you, his favorite person on the planet. The toy is only as appealing as what you and he might do with it together. If you take yourself out of the equation, it’s likely the toy will lose his interest in a hurry.

Even on days when you don’t have the time or energy to be the world’s best dog parent, you are the center of your dog’s world. Everything good that happens to him happens because of you.

How Much Undivided Attention Does Your Dog Get?

If you’re like many busy folks in today’s world, you’re a multitasker — even when you’re interacting with your dog. You throw the stuffed toy across the room, your dog takes off after it, and you immediately turn to another task.

Or you play tug-of-war with your dog with one hand while talking on the phone or checking your email with the other. I’ve even seen people at the dog park checking social media pages in between ball or Frisbee tosses.

Maybe you take your dog for a walk but pull her along because you’re in a hurry, or you’re distracted by a cell phone call, or the weather isn’t ideal. She doesn’t get much chance to stop and sniff, which is as important and interesting to your dog as your phone call is to you.

Try Staying Present With Your Pet

The next time you engage in a play or exercise session with your dog, try staying present with just that one activity. Focus exclusively on your him and your interaction with him. Even if you’re not really feeling it at that moment, get animated. If you throw a toy and he brings it back to you, praise him enthusiastically each time he returns it.

If you take him for a walk, view the activity from his perspective. Focus on making it enjoyable for him. Give him a chance to sniff and dawdle a bit. Or if you’re power walking together, give him lots of encouragement and praise along the way.

Savor the Moment

When you pick out new, safe toys for your pet, you have her happiness foremost in your mind. When you bring the toy home, remind yourself how it felt as you carefully selected it over dozens of other toys. Then, instead of simply tossing the toy to her when you get home, focus on creating a positive emotional connection around it.

Relish each playful interaction with her. If you follow her lead, your furry family member can teach you how to truly appreciate the simple joys of life. Watch how much fun this little dog and his human have in less than two minutes:

Now go play!