An oldie, but still a goodie. Many dogs enjoy chasing a toy, and being able to do that in conjunction with your human family as part of a game is a lovely way to enjoy a walk together. In order to play the game, our puppy needs to learn a few skills and cues so that we can get started.

It's a good idea to keep some toys just for the purpose of playing with your puppy - toys that they only have access to when they're playing with you. Lots of dogs like fluffy toys like the ones from Tug-E-Nuff, but most would like to tear all the fluff of them if given the chance! I have a bag (well several actually!) of toys which are for the express purpose of playing with my dogs. This makes the toys more valuable too as they have restricted access to them.

Fetch with tug toy

  • Use the corner of a room or a hallway which you can comfortably sit astride
  • Initially, you will do very short throws so really sit nice and close to the corner or end of the hall
  • Engage puppy with a favourite toy from your special store
  • Whip the toy away from your puppy once they're excited about playing with it
  • Restrain puppy by the chest or harness
  • Throw the toy into the corner
  • Hold up your hand for the toy as they turn back to face you with it
  • Don't lean forward to take the toy as this will encourage them to turn away from you
  • Leaning back slightly can often encourage them to want to bring it closer to you
  • Have a brief game of tuggy with them when they get it to your hand
  • Let them win the toy when they pull back from you
  • Tell them how clever they are and encourage them repeat the act of bringing the toy to you

Fetch with Paws Pocket or Clam

Paws Pockets by Paws Trading

Tug-E-Nuff Clam

  • Introduce the dog to the idea that food comes from the centre of the toy with it fully open
  • Hold the toy in your hand and place a treat in the centre of the toy
  • Let them eat it and repeat until they are enthusiastic about coming to take the treat from the toy
  • Gradually close up the toy until the puppy is opening it up unaided happily and confidently
  • Use the corner of a room or a hallway which you can comfortably sit astride
  • Initially, you will do very short throws so really sit nice and close to the corner or end of the hall
  • Engage puppy with their toy by showing them you're loading it with food
  • Restrain puppy by the chest or harness - gentle souls will prefer being held by the harness
  • Assess the reaction you get to them being restrained - if they don't like it then it will diminish their joy for playing with you
  • Throw the toy into the corner - a short enough throw that you can reach for it if need be
  • Let them eat the treats inside the toy
  • Hold up your hand for the toy as they turn back to face you with it
  • Don't lean forward to take the toy as this will encourage them to turn away from you
  • Leaning back slightly can often encourage them to want to bring it closer to you
  • Put more food into the toy to reward them for retrieving the toy - don't hand feed them, always from the toy!
  • Tell them how clever they are and encourage them to repeat the act of bringing the toy to you

NB: “Throwing sticks for dogs to chase can result in horrific injuries and each year, many dogs are killed retrieving sticks which are thrown for them. The most common injury is caused by the stick tearing through the throat and ripping the oesophagus” Karen Booth, Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Vets Now, Telford.

Recommended resources: 

  • Kong Safestix
  • Tug-E-Nuff Tug Toys
  • Paws Pocket (for food motivated puppies)
  • Tug-E-Nuff Clam (for food motivated puppies)

Today I'm grateful for how much my dogs love to play because of the sheer JOY it brings to our lives together :)

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