Interactive toys are the hottest item on the canine market. And are they pricy! Then when you give it to your dog they either chew it up or ignore it and never play with it. We have ‘field tested’ just about every dog toy at Appalachian Dog Training LLC and we know how to get the best value out of interactive dog toys.
1. Buy only durable toys. Hard rubber or very hard plastic toys prove to be the strongest. No toy will last forever, and you should toss toys that are getting chewed or have broken parts. Choose the larger sized toy for your dog when multiple sizes are available but make sure the toy can be pushed around, picked up and carried.
2. No free access to interactive toys! Dogs can become bored or frustrated when the treats are gone and chew up the toy in search of more treats. Only bring the toy out when you can supervise your dog and take it back when the treats are out.
3. Use smelly treats to stuff inside of toys. Small round training treats work well. For dogs not needing extra calories or motivation, use dry kibble. The toy could be used to feed ½ of your dog’s daily feeding amount.
4. Training Tips - help your dog learn how to use the toy! The first 1-4 times you give your dog the interactive toy be ready to teach him how to use it. This will help him become interested because if they try to play with the toy and do not get a treat out in the first 3 tries they are likely to move on.
Training Tips Step by Step: The first three times the dog interacts with the toy (sniffing it, touching it, pushing it, nosing it) he must get a treat. This is where you come in and act as your dog’s companion. Be ready with a handful of treats and when your dog sniffs it, touches it, pushes it, or noses it toss a treat onto the toy.
Training Hint: the treat must come from the toy, not you. Tossing the treat too far or asking the dog to come to you to get it will not create this idea that treats come from this super cool, new toy. If you want to get even more technical, teach the dog to interact with the toy in successive steps. This means to treat the dog 3 times for looking towards the toy, then treat 3 times for sniffing the toy, 3 times for touching the toy, next treat 3 times for nosing the toy, and finally treat 3 times for pushing the toy (or whatever action he will be required to do to get the treats by himself). This plan is successive because you are successively making it more difficult while still ensuring your dog can get it right and have fun!
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.