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Learning to play

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So Rusty the rescue has been here 3 months. He does not know how to play. He does not know how to play with toys, play with balls, play with people, or play with the other dogs. We've been trying to teach him....he usually turns his head and lays down. Recently he has started taking an interest when the dogs fetch toys or balls...but his interest is in working the dogs and running with or at the dogs....no interest in the object itself. It's a hard thing to correct, since when you say ahh-ahh, the dog that is fetching thinks your correcting her.


So today I bought Rusty a ball that has a hole to get treats out. The ball unscrews, you put the treats in, and screw it back together. I show him the ball and let him smell it. Then I throw it and encourage him to get it. He actually runs and gets the ball! Hooray! He brings it back up on the bed, and tries to get the treats out. He won't let me watch...if I watch, he stops trying. So I let him alone and in a matter of a minute or so, he has all the treats out. Then I see why....he unscrews the ball!!! My first BC loves to unscrew the caps off of empty plastic bottles...a talent that she came with. Now I have another one that knows how to unscrew things! I am wondering...is this a common border collie trait??? :lol:

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My border collie is my first, my one and only--and he does not do this at all. He loves to play--however, I have had a greyhound for almost 10 years, and he is exactly as you describe. Best we can figure, because it isn't uncommon in greys, is that they really aren't taught to play as pups--or adults, for that matter--so they just have no idea what to do.


I don't know what your dogs history might be, but rescue dogs are always evolving little buggers, aren't they? Good luck :)

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None of those toys that supposedly entertain your dog for "hours" last more than about five minutes with Maggie. I don't think they take into account Border Collies when they make that statement.


When I got Maggie at 4 months, she had never had a toy....I agree its fun to watch them discover the world.

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If the purpose of the toy is to teach the dog to play (presumably with you), then I don't think they are meant to be left alone with the dog. Most of those food toys say, "Use under supervision only," because they are not indestructible.


I struggled with getting Secret to play as well. She just had zero interest, or she might play for a minute or two and then get bored.


First thing: Do not try to engage the dog in play when the other dogs are present. They are too distracting. Set aside time for just the two of you to play and focus all of your energy on the dog and having FUN. If you aren't sincere about playing they catch on rather quickly and quit.


I removed all access to toys in the house so that the only time Secret saw toys was when playing with me. It made them more valuable.


Food toys are great at transferring value for food motivated dogs! I used a Tug-It food stuffable toy to get Secret started on tugging. It's a food pouch made of mesh so that when the dog bites down on it they get a taste of oozy goodness, which encourages them to bite down more and learn to like tugging.


Keep play sessions very short -- leave them wanting more. As their love for playing starts to grow you can lengthen sessions, but we would literally just play for a couple of minutes to start. If she ignored me I put her in her crate for a bit to think about her options and then brought her out and tried again.


It took several months to really build up her toy drive, but now Secret is nuts for frisbee, ball, tug, and pretty much everything in between. Play is important to me (and our agility training), so it was worth the effort.

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Don't remember having to teach a dog to play. But when I want them to play with a certain toy and they aren't interested. I can get their interest by acting the fool and pretending that its the best toy in the world. Yes I have tackle a toy and proceeded to play with it while ignoring the dog. Talk about a fast way to make that toy their favorite. Lol


If it makes you feel better. Troy knows how to open drawers and open latched containers and open glove department. Oh and also how to open water bottles.


My sister dog knows how to open doors.

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