Puppies love to play with their people, often whether their person has time for it at the moment or not! Shoelaces, pant legs, fingers, and toes often become targets for a bored puppy, much to the chagrin of their owner. Why not build time into your day where you play with interactive toys for a puppy that help build a healthy bond, improve communication, and increase confidence? Playing with interactive toys for a puppy also allows time to improve their manners and training without seeming to them as though they are in a formal training session. Interactive play can teach restraint in things like biting behavior and vocalizing while the pup is given the instant reward of the play session – a strong motivator for a dog of any age!
Interactive toys for puppies can include just about anything that requires your input and attention. Throwing a ball is interactive and think about all the great training that can go into something as simple as retrieving a ball!
First the puppy must learn to retrieve, a common and easy thing for the average pup to learn but in the case of a stubborn or dominant puppy, learning to work with their human can be a challenge. Once the pup has figured out what retrieving is all about and how much fun it is, you can start adding other commands into the session , all with the instant reward of chasing the ball.
‘Out’ is a natural command – when the pup goes to drop the ball, say ‘out’. Make sure they do drop the ball by either bribing them with a treat or by gently putting your hand on the ball and pulling.
‘Sit’ is another easy command to work into the play session. Best included before you throw the ball, ask the puppy to ‘ sit ‘ and, as soon as their bottom touches the ground, throw the ball. Once they understand that the only way the ball will be thrown is if they sit, start lengthening the amount of time that elapses between their sitting and throwing the ball. If they start to stand up, give the pup a reminder command such as a calm ‘no’ or warning sound.
‘Stay’ is a more advanced command to incorporate in a play session but even a young pup can learn it. Once they understand the ‘sit’ command, place your hand on their collar and say ‘stay’. Now throw the ball, keeping your hand in place. Once he settles into a sit, give him a release word such as ‘okay’ and remove your hand. The important part is to make sure you do not release him until he resigns himself to the ‘sit’ position and this can take a few moments – do not give in!
These lessons would be taught over the course of weeks or even months along with his more formal training sessions. You never want to decrease the fun of the play session by making him learn too much too quickly. Move gradually through these steps and he will learn to not only how to play fetch but also how to do basic obedience with distractions – a useful step as he ages.
Other interactive toys for a puppy include rope pull toys . Puppies love playing ‘tuggies’ and although it is not recommended for dominant or aggressive pups, it is an excellent way to improve the confidence levels of a shy or submissive puppy. Normally you would never let the pup ‘win’ the game, especially if the pup has gotten themselves into a frenzy. However, a shy pup should win now and again as a way of building their confidence in their abilities. This will soon become a game they enjoy and will learn to bring you the ‘tuggy or rope toy when they want to play.
Outdoor agility equipment can also be considered interactive toys for a puppy. You would want to wait until the pup is four or five months old before starting any serious agility training. However, teaching him about tunnels, weave poles, and walking on a beam (keep a hand on either side of him so he does not fall off) are all excellent ways to interact and train with your pup between formal training sessions.
Interactive toys for a puppy can include just about anything that you do with your pup. Interactive training sessions offer excellent opportunities for training as well as time to bond with your puppy. Enjoy the time and learn to make up your own games for you and your puppy!