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I hope it’s ok to post this here since it for a dog just not a border collie. 
My terrier is a super fun dog. He is a little over four years old. I have had him since he was 4 months old. He is super athletic and energetic however he has like no toy drive. He doesn’t typically look for toy. The only time he “wants” a toy is if Valek has a toy then it’s the best toy ever. However saying that even if my terrier gets the toy he doesn’t hold onto it. Typically he will drop the toy once the game of chase is on since he wanted the “chase me” game and not the toy. 
Everything I read says use a treat to reward interacting with the toy. I tried that and also toys that are interactive. He tries to do the bare minimum to get the treat and he will interact with the toy ONLY if you have treats. Else he isn’t interested. I recently tried putting Val away to just play with my terrier and he was interested in playing with a toy for maybe 5 minutes and then he was done. I have also tried getting him excited by running the other direction. Slapping the toy down. Me playing with the toy acting like it’s fun. He just gives me that judgmental terrier look and walks away.

Do you have suggestions? While I was hoping to play disc with Val for another couple years I thought my terrier would be a blast to play with also if I could get him interested in toys.


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That's a nice photo.

Why do you feel your terrier needs to develop a toy drive?

Some dogs like toys and some don't. I see no reason to try to go against his nature. After all, if he is not toy-driven, then you really cannot use the toy as a reward anyway. And if he doesn't want to play with a toy...so what? I always think it is best, when a dog turns out not to be exactly what you want in some trivial way, to love the dog as the dog is, not try to change the nature of the dog to suit what we wanted.

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The only experience I have with a dog that isn't interested in toys was the rescue we had growing up. She was a stray pup in Greece that someone took home to the Netherlands with them and that didn't go well, so she ended up in a shelter when she was an adult.
Slightly different situation than your dog, because she really didn't know what a toy was. We went to a trainer who advised us to play with toys in the living room and have a lot of fun with it, without inviting the dog to play with us. Basically: the humans played and ignored the dog whilst making enthusiastic noises.
We looked like idiots and felt very selfconscious at first, but it was a lot of fun once we got over that. And it worked. She had the freedom to investigate and decide for herself she wanted to join in.
I think this wouldn't have worked so well if we played with other dogs instead of only humans. The competition with other dogs would have put too much pressure on her I think. 

So I think it was a good decision to play with him without the other dogs. And 5 minutes is already something and a whole lot more than no minutes :) I'd say keep it short and sweet and stop way before he loses interest, even if that means playing for 10 seconds. Leave him wanting more.
And perhaps you will find that he really isn't interested in more than 5 minutes of play. I see no harm in trying as long as there is no pressure on the dog and the dog is having fun. 

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@D’Elle I was hoping to get him interested in disc so I could do competition with him.  He is a ton of fun to interact with. I was hoping/dreaming of playing disc with the terrier when Val gets too old to play and prior to growing out another border collie.
I know he doesn’t HAVE to. I got the terrier to be a companion and he excels at that. Just curious how to get him to have interest if possible.

@gcv-border you are right. When it’s something the terrier has to think about and repetitive he loses interest really quick. I’m planning on getting him into a nose work class since he would really enjoy that. He loves to use his nose. That is his favorite game ever. I just really enjoy disc and agility so was hoping to get him interested also.

@Flora & Molly We will keep trying. I sometimes feel so silly playing with the dogs toys solo and the dog aka the terrier is even judging my performance . :lol:


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SS Cressa,

I think that you will often find that one skill leads into another. Keep trying by mixing in toy play with something he really, really loves.

And don't worry about being judged when acting silly with your dogs. Do it when you are alone. One of the better agility instructors I know is constantly playing and acting silly with her dogs, but it is done with a plan in mind. Her dogs are awesome.

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On 9/18/2020 at 2:53 PM, SS Cressa said:

D’Elle I was hoping to get him interested in disc so I could do competition with him.  He is a ton of fun to interact with. I was hoping/dreaming of playing disc with the terrier when Val gets too old to play and prior to growing out another border collie.

Oh, I see. Well, my Jester was a flying disc fanatic. If I even made the sound "frr" (the first part of the word "frisbee") he would get excited. When he came to me he'd been a yard dog, no attention, no toys. Didn't know what a toy was, had zero interest.

I taught him to fetch by starting out tossing something a few feet away and if he brought it to me he'd get a treat. I trained it as if it were a trick. I kept that up and after a couple of months I was throwing the frisbee far out and he'd bring it to me for the treat. Then one day the light bulb went on in his head and he realized how much fun it was, and after that he had no interest in the treat.........just "throw it again! throw it again!" You could try that and see if he eventually lights up. You never know...

And definitely don't be embarrassed about "looking silly". If I am out with my dog(s), training or playing, it's all about the dog and I don't care if anyone is looking or what they think if they are looking. I know for you it's all about the dog, too, so don't worry about how you look. Take a lesson from the dogs. They just have fun in the moment and never once think about how they look doing it!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/15/2020 at 10:21 PM, gcv-border said:

Very nice photo.

I don't know. I think 5 minutes of toy playing in pretty good. In fact, I would stop toy play before he loses interest. (I am sure you have heard that before.) I am a big fan of very short training sessions.



Kylie's toy drive is built on food drive.  She didn't even have chase/prey drive. The progression was this:

Put food in a sealed container she could pick up but not open.  When she mouthed it, mark and reward for container.

Progress to food in sealed container but asking her to actually pick it up.  Mark and reward from container. 

Progressing to food in sealed container CARRY IT a step, mark and reward from container.

From that we added distance to her carrying it to me, then small tosses and a verbal 'get it!'

After THAT it became a verbal get it with the food still in the container and the container as the toy but rewarding from another source - (ie: My pocket) I repeat, the toy was still a container with food.

THEN we started using actual toys like balls or stuffies and still with the verbal 'get it' and food reward.

THEN we started fading the food rewards. 

And somewhere along there she turned onto the game.  Because she understood it.  And she started having fun.  ANd value from food transferred to the game/toys.  She still won't tug often, but she plays a decent game of fetch or disc and loves every second of it.   The toys themselves are even rewards.  Yes, yes it DID take a long time but so worth it.

Why build it when it wasn't there?  Because I knew she would enjoy the game - and she does - but she had to be taught what the game was.  Just because it wasn't hardwired into her brain didn't mean she doesn't love it NOW. 




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