Teaching an Adult Dog How 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!


It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Wed Feb 6, '13 5:08pm PST 
We're having a few warm days on and off so I'd love to get Callie out to the park to play. I took Sophie today and she had a blast chasing sticks in the tennis courts. She loves flying around n' gets a great workout besides.
It's possible Callie never really learned to play. I took him with Sophie one day and he watched her but almost seemed puzzled at what she was doing. When I took him back alone he came up with his own game...try to playfully take down the human, then he rolled over on his back for a tummy rub.
When I throw sticks or tennis balls in the yard he'll trot after them. Then he plops down and chews them apart...well for him...playing
If he had a rough puppyhood maybe gnawing things was all the recreation he had. Will watching Sophie long enough give him the idea or are there some ways I can kind of teach him how to relax and have fun?
Mr. Blue

I'm not blue at- all!
Barked: Thu Feb 7, '13 9:40am PST 
How long have you had her? I had Mr Blue for a few months before he would play. He would look at bones and watch me throw toys. He was never a big player, but eventually would start chasing what we threw and shaking it. He would like to wrestle on the ground with us up until the month we lost him. I think it just took time for him to truly feel at home and relaxed and able to be a dog.

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Thu Feb 7, '13 10:51am PST 
That brings up a good point too. teaching something like retrieving or even just chase the stick and prance around all proud because you picked up the stick is good...some gentle training games that maybe Sophie could play too?

With the average doggie tug of war and wrestling around can be okay but Callie is way too strong for games like that...I'm trying to think activities for both dogs together that might help them with confidence and cooperation

Member Since
Barked: Thu Feb 7, '13 11:02pm PST 
Try to remove all the toys from the dog's environment. Pick them all up and put them away and keep them out of site. What you want to do is get the dog excited about 1 or 2 toys.

You can then start trying out this exercise 2-3 times a day for 7 days. It should work and may well work within just a few days.

1 - Take your dog outside and tie your dog to a post, railing etc.
2 - Get a human friend and a dog toy. Use 1 toy that you can stuff food in like a Kong, an old tennis ball or any of the new pouch toys that you can stuff. Stuff it with food - something the dog loves but that won't fall out when thrown.
3 - Toss the toy back and forth to your friend while your dog is watching. Make a big production during the toss - you want your dog to witness (and smell) the fun. Do NOT give your dog the toy, just let her watch the fun.
4 - After the 5-10 minutes bring everyone back inside. Take the toy and put it on the fridge or in a place where the dog can see it but not get to it. Repeat for 1 week.

On day seven BEFORE your dog has eaten and is hungry, take out the toy and go outside with the dog and play fetch. This should solve the problem.

Very quickly the toy should become something the dog loves to play with and you probably won't need to stuff it with food.

Remember to put the toy away after use to maintain the dog's excitement.