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mr.mister

Encouraging Toy Play

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I've just brought home a 4 year old female BC, Flair. She's a lovely girl, very affectionate and walks very well on leash, quite sensible but has no interest whatsoever in the toys we have. Luckily she is not too high energy, but I would really like to teach her how to play with toys (with me) so that we can burn off extra energy, and also because I would enjoy playing with my dog! :laugh: Further down the track I'd like to start teaching her to carry objects and find/bring objects, just for some mental stimulation. So an interest in toys full stop would be a good start!

I have a collection of balls, a rubber ring, two different tugs and a plush toy with a squeaker. She hasn't shown any interest in any of them. So far, I've tried running around like a loony with the toys, throwing them about, playing with them myself, even rubbing tasty food on the toys to make her more inclined to hold them in her mouth. Flair does get excited when I make a big deal about it, but she's far more interested in licking my face than playing with the toys I'm holding. :o

I have been recommended a 'flirt pole' which I will give a go, though she gets a bit spooked by big things swinging around so I'm not sure it will have the desired effect.

We do start obedience training on Wednesday so I will chat to the instructors about it too, but would love some DOL feedback.

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Perhaps instead of waving the flirt pole in the air you could have it whooshing along the floor kind of like vermin.

I'd be inclined to switch to eating her food out of any sort of enrichment toy so she has to work for her food. BCs in particular need that mental stimulation, and it could well will tire her out more than just adding in more exercise. It also gives her something to do when you're out.

My dog so far hasn't been interesting in food dispensing toys like the Kong, for some strange reason he's very wary of them and I think they also frustrate him because he wants the food but can't get to it because of his aversion. There are thankfully other options when it comes to food enrichment type toys and feeders.

- Snuffle mats, where they have to forage for food in the mat. There's a lady in Tassie who makes the most gorgeous mats (look up Snuffle Mats Australia on Facebook) or you can make one yourself as I'm doing (Google for instructions)

- Slow feeder bowls, e.g. ones by Outward Hound and Kyjen. There's also the Buster DogMaze.

- The more interactive toys from Nina Ottoson, Kyjen and Trixie.

Here's a site that has a whole stack of different options. If you email the owner and tell her about your dog, she'll make some recommendations. http://www.petsneedalifetoo.com/ (I have no connection with this person, she just helped me out too :) )

I think your girl needs to have her confidence build up especially after moving to a new home. Perhaps she does like some toys but is feeling too unsettled to play with them yet. I'd suggest starting easy and try not to have too much expectation... I think dogs pick up on that and find it stressful, a sort of performance anxiety.

In terms of other toys, maybe see if she likes soft toys that don't have squeakers or at least easy-to-deploy squeakers, in case she has a noise sensitivity. You could also ask her breeder if she has any favourite toys or games she used to play with the other dogs she lived with.

I also saw your post in the BC thread and I think your girl might benefit from using an Adaptil collar or plug-in while she settles.

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