Hounds 'n' Harmony

Dogs & Their Toys

Toys are an essential part of a dogs playtime and mental stimulation, however, how many toys does one dog need? and should their toys be left out?


We tend to think that by leaving our dogs toys scattered throughout the house, the dog will entertain themselves, which they do for short periods of time, however what your dog really wants, is time with you, so playing by themselves does not fulfil that need. It can also become very frustrating for the owner, when your dog keeps pushing a toy into your lap, in an attempt to gain your attention. If you think about that particular behaviour, we are no different – take children for example: we can give them toys to play with, which keeps them occupied for a while, but once the novelty has worn off, they lose interest and want something else, which is usually our attention. Given the option of playing with a new toy or quality time spent with mum and dad, the majority would pick the latter.


To a dog, toys are trophies to be won and lost. It you watch dogs playing with a toy, the victor will parade around with the toy in their mouth, presenting it to the subordinate dog, as if to say, “ha-ha I won” and then joyfully throwing their head back and parading once more. They do this with us too. Take ball throwing for example. How many of our dogs, when we throw the ball for them, will bring it back and drop it, but when we attempt to pick it up, they beat us to it and run off with the ball once more, before repeating the behaviour. Who’s leading the play in this instance? It certainly isn’t the owner!


For our dogs (and some might argue our children) it’s far better to leave down only one or two toys and rotate them, so your dog has a different toy to play with every few days. Engagement takes many forms and isn’t just about toys, it can include basic training, games, agility, hide & seek, anything where you are spending quality time with your dog, ensuring that it is interactive, fun and above all, that you are the one dictating play.


If you wish to know more about canine behaviour and how I can help redress the balance, then please click on the following link: https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

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