Pretending to toss the ball and looking on as the fooled dog searches for it can be entertaining for the human but no so much for the dog. The human-canine relationship is built on trust and your dog trusts you. He trusts that you will throw the ball when you make the throwing motion.
Joking around is a very high cognitive function, one the dog does not possess. The dog is incapable of understanding a joke. Therefore, we cannot joke with him. When we do play a joke on him he interprets it with the cognitive functions he is capable of.
Cooperation is a social skill that dogs are generally very good at. Domestication and modern-day breeding selects the most cooperative dogs. We have dogs that work for humans finding drugs or explosives, searching for the tracks of lost humans, and mitigating disabilities for human partners. If dogs were not highly cooperative they would not be existing and flourishing in these roles.
What happens when the dog’s partner is not cooperative? Imagine the K9 Handler does not throw a toy when his K9 dog detects a drug odor or no joyful petting and excitement when a Search and Rescue (SAR) dog finds the lost child. The dog will be expecting his toy or reward and will be terribly confused when he or she does not receive it.
Do this enough times and the dog will no longer work.
This happens because the dog is expecting you to cooperate with him. He did his part – the work – and now expects you to do your part – give the reward. If you fail in holding up your part of the bargain he or she is not going to want to work or interact with you because you are not trustworthy.
Lose your dog’s trust and you have damaged your relationship.
Play fair to build a better bond!
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.