How To... Make Toys More Valuable
Making toys seem more valuable to your dog will make him more interested in them and you will then be able to use games to reward him more successfully for behaving well or complying with requests.
Play your dog's favourite game
Your dog will always be most attracted to toys that allow him to play his favourite game. So if he likes tug, choose tug toys. If he prefers to chase, choose objects that roll and bounce, or Frisbees that fly. If he is a terrier, try squeaky toys. If he is a puppy or just learning to play, choose large fluffy toys (see 'How To Teach Your Puppy To Play With Toys').
Keep special toys special
Keep one or two of his favourite toys to yourself, taking them away at the end of the games so that they stay new and interesting for your dog. Make sure he has plenty of other things to play with by himself.
Little, exciting and often
Get out the 'special' toys out many times throughout the day and invite your dog to play a quick game. Keep games less than 3 minutes long and try to stop the game and put the toys away at the peak of excitement. This will leave your dog wanting more and, next time, he will be very eager to play with the special toy.
Keep energy high
Only play if you feel like being energetic yourself as you will need to put lots of effort into games to keep your dog interested and excited. At the end of a 3-minute game, you should both be panting, warm and a little tired, but also energized and feeling good.
Ring the changes
Just like children, dogs can get bored with playing with the same old toy time and again, so try introducing something new occasionally to spice up the game for both of you.
Keep it positive
Above all, games should be fun for both you and your dog. If you end up feeling frustrated or annoyed during a game, stop and try to work out what has gone wrong (see links below for answers). Don’t get nasty or controlling. Just play, have fun, be silly and your dog will love games with you. Toys will then become treasured items that he will work hard to acquire, allowing you to use them to train him or to help put right a behaviour problem.