Building Toy or Ball Drive
By Joel Monroe & Michael Jen
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photo credit: MonkeyMike
Every young puppy has an interest in playing and it is very easy to develop a pup’s desire to play with a toy such as a ball or tug. This is often referred to as “toy drive”. It is much more difficult to develop toy drive on an older dog that has no interest in playing, so it is always best to develop this drive while the dog is young and is always eager to play.
The first key is to have a “favorite toy” for your dog. If you play with your dog, try to use the same toy every time rather than using a different toy each time.
The second key to developing a strong interest in playing is not allow the dog to come in contact with the toy when you are not playing with your dog. This increases the value of the toy as the dog cannot have the toy whenever it wants. Dogs are like people in that they will want things they do not have.
The third key is to stop playing at the highest, most intense part of that playtime. In other words, if the dog’s drive is like a mountain peak, you should always end the playtime when the dog’s drive is on its way up or as close to the peak as possible. Never end the exercise when the dog’s drive is going in a downward spiral. If this happens, then you’ve played too long, and the dog’s drive has already begun to diminish. This will cause boredom.
Leave your dog “hungry” for the toy and always wanting more. To draw an analogy, let say you were hungry and I give you one bite of a candy bar and then look the candy bar away from you. This would make you really want more candy. However, if I gave you 10 candy bars to eat and you ate all of them, you would probably be sick of eating candy and wouldn’t want another bar if I gave it to you.
For this reason, playing with puppies should not be an activity done all of the time. Playtime should be the most special time for them. Puppies sometimes have extremely short the attention spans. Too much play with the toy can cause the puppy to lose interest and lose focus. So it is possible that you may play with your young pup for only a few seconds at first until the toy drive increases.
By developing a high drive for a toy, you will not only be able to give your dog a great workout and build a strong relationship, but the toy then can also be used as a reward for obedience training and socialization.
Joel Monroe is the head trainer at Big Valley Dog Training and has been involved in dog training for over 13 years. As one of the leading experts in the business, Joel trains over 135 dogs each week with clients ranging from family pets to police canine units. Whether it be obedience, tracking, agility, hunting, or protection, he has a wealth of knowledge and experience that keeps him in extremely high demand. As a result, he is also the main protection training helper for clubs in Menlo Park, Bakersfield, Turlock, and Fresno.