Friday, December 7, 2012

How do I Train with Toys?

You've decided that you're going to use toys in training.  Now what?

1.  Use what your dog likes.  A toy doesn't function as a reward for your dog unless your dog likes the toy.  This is typically a trial and error process.  Does Spot like squeakers? Fluffy toys? Tennis balls? Leather?  Sheepskin?  There are so many great options for toys available on the internet.  Explore them with your dog; it will be fun!

This dog isn't always motivated to play with toys.  The following is a quick check that he's interested in playing with this toy before we start training.  Yay or nay - does my dog like this toy?

 2.  Determine what interactions with the toy that your dog enjoys. Some examples include: throwing the toy for your dog to retrieve,

Or tugging with your dog...

Or the toy victory lap (dog receives toy and does excited dance of joy followed by zoom around the room)...

3.  Use an interaction that your dog enjoys and that also encourages your training game to continue.

Realistically, the game that is easiest to use in toy-reward obedience training is tug.  In agility, toy delivery frequently happens further away from you, so retrieve is great.  But as long as your dog is having a great time and you can get some repetitions in, pick and choose what works for you and your dog.