Slomin Family Center
August 21, 2020
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Beyond Housebreaking - What's Toys Are To Dogs

Author: Administrator
The next thing you will really want to work on with your puppy is his knowledge of what constitutes a toy and what doesn't. It's not fun to have a dog that doesn't understand that your new Italian shoes are not his new chew toys. This lesson is fun for your pet and should be for you, too. This lesson will teach your dog not only the word "toy", but the words for specific toys. It will ingrain a categorical concept of "toys" in his brain. The more categories your dog can be taught, the more abstractly he will be able to think, and the smarter he will become, so this is an important lesson on many levels.
To teach your dog about toys, you will need to have three or four toys for your pet. You will also need a few things that your pet will not be allowed to chew on but may be on the floor now and again. A pair of shoes, a book, and other such personal belongings do well for this task.

If you have children who leave their toys laying around, expect complications with this lesson. It is going to be very difficult for your dog to understand the difference between some of his toys and some of theirs. A ball is a ball and knowing that one is okay to play with and one belongs to someone else is a pretty complex idea even for young children. You and your children must expect accidents with toys that are left out where the puppy can get to them. In the long run, no matter how well trained the dog is, if you aren't right there to tell the dog that a particular ball is "no toy", he's going to eat it no matter who it belongs to.

To teach your dog about toys you are going to scatter your dog's toys and the personal items you have chosen around the floor close to you, then sit on the floor with your pet. Pick up a toy and show it to him. Tell him "toy". Repeat this with all of his toys. Let him pick up his toys, too. Tell him the name of each toy as he picks it up. Play with him and the toy for a minute, then choose a new toy. If he picks up a personal item, which he will if they are placed with the toys, tell him "no toy" and take it away from him and put it beside you on the floor. Any time he picks up a personal item, repeat this process.

After going through the "toy" lesson a few times, you are going to teach him what each individual toy is. To do this you will pick up one of his toys - say it is a ball for this lesson. Tell your dog "toy", then add the word "toy" - "ball toy". Repeat "ball" again. Play with your dog and the ball and talk to him about the ball while you play. Put the word "ball" in different positions in your sentences - for instance. You might say these things to your dog. "What kind of toy is this? This is a ball toy. The ball is good toy. Fido like his ball?"

This process might seem strange but it works on many levels. First it teaches your dog that there is a class of items, "toys",which are things he is allowed to play with. Any time you tell him toy - he will have that category in his brain and will automatically know the function of the item along with all of the rules you have taught him about "toys". The process further teaches him the names of each of his toys. Later he will bring you any particular toy you ask for. He also learns a first rule for toys - that things that are "no toys" are not to be played with while anything you call a "toy" can be.

You will want to repeat this process with several toys in each lesson. Always have one personal item, or "no toy" around for him to make a mistake and pick up so you can correct him about playing with "no toys". You will want to repeat these lessons until your dog can retrieve a toy when asked to get a toy, and get get the correct toy when you ask for a specific toy.

NOTES OF IMPORTANCE:

EVERY TIME YOUR DOG DOES SOMETHING RIGHT, PRAISE HIM LAVISHLY. Your dog wants to please you. He wants to learn and communicate. Let him know EVERY time he gets something right. It is hard for him to know that he has accomplished what you are trying to teach him if he gets no response from you. "Good Boy" should be a frequent part of your vocabulary as your dog learns and grows. Frequent pats on the head and hugs will be welcome and sought. The more positive reinforcement he gets from you, the faster he will learn.

Never punish your pup for getting something wrong. Just simply say "no" and show him the right choice. If you want him to pick up his "ball" and he picks up his "bone" simply say "no ball" as you take the bone away from him. Give him the ball while saying "ball", then tell him he is a good boy when he takes the ball - "Ball, Good boy". ALWAYS give your dog something he CAN play with when taking something away from him. You do not want him to get the idea he is not allowed to play - just that he must choose something he is allowed to have to play with.

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