How to teach my dog to play?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Love me, please!
Barked: Wed May 14, '08 2:00am PST 
I got a 2-3 yrs old rescue dog and she doesnt know what is play. I throw the ball and she doesnt even notice. I bought her several toys but she ignores them. Can anyone tell me how can I wake up her instincts, to chase things and play?
Duke -Rest- In Peace-

My mommy and- daddy miss me :(
Barked: Wed May 14, '08 2:07am PST 
Does she have a favorite treat or food? Duke stopped playing fetch whihc is my personal favorite lol so I cut open a tennis ball and stuck a treat inside.

He went for it every time. smile Just dont leave it in there, she may try ripping the ball apart to get the treat, Duke attempted to. Plus you dont want it to get all gross and moldy.

Almost forgot, remember to reward her. I'd give Duke a small bit of treat even if he just ran for it, so he'd get back into it again.

Edited by author Wed May 14, '08 2:09am PST


Dog About- Rosedale

Barked: Wed May 14, '08 5:38am PST 
This may sound weird but when my old roommate got a rescue greyhound we actually go down on the ground with her and did the human version of "play bows" with her. Poor dog thought we were insane at first and then one day it's like a little lightbulb went off in her head and boom she play bowed back! We then integrated some toys and took her out to socialize with other dogs so she would recognize the language from other dogs.
The treat in the ball helps too, or peanut butter in a kong or soaking a soft toy in chicken broth and freezing it to encourage her chewing and playing with the squeaky toy.
It may take a while, if she was never allowed/taught/encouraged to play with her previous humans it may be very hard for her in the beginning to understand that it is ok to act like a dog!


Being sassy is- my profession.
Barked: Wed May 14, '08 5:49am PST 
bol Cracker, we play bow to Abby all the time! She gets a kick out of it.
Mandy and - Casey

2PUPPIES 2x the- work 4x the fun
Barked: Wed May 14, '08 5:52am PST 
That is so sad. Personally I would get down on ground and play bow and play with toys acting as goofy as you can.
She my not like ball but what about tug? Each time she grabs a tug treat act really silly shake it all over and swing it dragging on ground. Each positive sniff grab whatever treat.

Sorry I hate it when a dog won't have fun

Barked: Wed May 14, '08 12:06pm PST 
yep...we agree, close the blinds, get down on all fours and get silly!! you just may want to make sure no video's will get taken...laugh out loud
Cooper- 1999-March- 13th, 2010

Hangin' with Mr.- Cooper
Barked: Wed May 14, '08 12:16pm PST 
Chilla, Cooper did not know how to play when I got him 5 months ago, either and he is 8!! Nor did he know how to chew a bone! What I did was exactly what the other posters did but it does take time. We are still working on his playing and it has been nearly six months. Give tons and tons of praise for everything that your pup does so she can build confidence as well. That will help loads. Finally, treat feed her from your hand to build trust. Neglected dogs instictively know how to play but are so short on trust around humans that have never shown them kindness that they are too inhibited. Cooper is just at the level of trust now with me that I finally got to see him freely rolling around on the grass exposing his tummy only 2 days ago. Good luck and have fun. You're rscue is going to love you soooo much!

Silent Observer
Barked: Wed May 14, '08 12:30pm PST 
Storm came to me at about 8 months of age and had obviously never seen a toy, let alone been interacted with in a play situation.

I honestly left him to his own devices. He had constant access to a few toys (a stuffie, a Kong, a tennis ball, a chew toy...) but didn't notice them for the first few weeks home. When I put treats in the Kong he simply regarded it as little more than an interesting food bowl.

I think after about a month I noticed him randomly sniffing at the toys. I didn't make a big deal out of it - I simply said, "Oh, what a good boy!" and left it at that. I knew that a lot of attention and excitement would overwhelm my sensitive little boy. He knew what Good Boy meant, though (I had been training him since his second day home) and started increasing his contact with the toys. He started batting around the Kong with no food in it (he's very cat-like during play - a lot of Beardies are) and, with a bit of encouragement, discovered that he could make his stuffie Squeak, too.

He's been with me for almost three years now. It took a LONG time to teach Storm how to chase a toy or retrieve it (which was important for the obedience training that we do), but we got there. He does go for the toys on his own now, but sometimes needs a little encouragement to retrieve.

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Wed May 14, '08 12:46pm PST 
Many of the rescue dogs don't play. Sadly, I think it is typical of a rescue. With time, most of them learn the wonders of toys. Sadly, a small few never come around.

kaluha doesn't play and I was seriously doubting he ever would, but just the other week, afetr more than a year, he played a few games of chase with daddy. They only lasted about 30 seconds, but it is a start.

Ash was taught in a previous life never to touch anything that is not food and he learned that lesson well. Nick gave me some tips to start building a retrieve and here is what seems to be working for me. I found a little rawhide ball bade in strips with gaps. I rubbed it down with a soft treat and stuffed soft treats into the openings. He is learning to pick it up, but it is a slow process.

Another trick I use with PM dogs is to stuff a paper towel roll, toilet paper roll or tissue box (depending on the size of the dog) with tissues and soft,small treats. I let the dog watch me do this, then give it to them and let them rip it up. It's messy, but it does help!

im not- grumpy!!
Barked: Thu May 15, '08 1:05pm PST 
i TOTALLY agree with Cracker. get on his level and play like a dog!! it sounds stupid...but he will love it!! crawl about and nudge him with your head! laugh out loud

Have you tried a Kong with him? maybe in his last home he only had certain types of toys so dont give up, just try him with different types....we got whiskey from his previous owners...he will literally only play with a large red ball or a golf ball!
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