Not all dogs lose their minds at the mere sight of a tennis ball or squeaky toy. Some dogs are more interested in chewing your shoe than their rope, and could care less when you toss a Chuck-It. If your dog doesn’t love to play, engaging them can be challenging. However, teaching them to enjoy playing with toys is both possible and worth it!
Our favourite things for dogs who don’t play are:
Kong is a classic for a reason. A Kong stuffed with yummy treats is ever better! For some dogs, rowdy play is far too stressful. Try stuffing a Kong with all-natural peanut butter so your dog can get the mental stimulation they need, on their terms.
My dog, normally hyper vigilant and anxious, will relax for hours with a peanut-butter-stuffed Kong.
If your dog doesn’t love to play, buying a million toys just seems unnecessary. The Rubber Plush Disk is many toys in one, so you get more bang for your buck. It is sturdy enough for tug-of-war, and flies like a frisbee when thrown for some great fetch action. The tough material and disk shape make it a challenging chew for dogs who are so inclined. Try starting with tug-of-war: and make sure to let your dog win sometimes!
My mother’s dog – a young Vizsla – is obsessed with this toy! She graduated from playing tug to playing fetch using the same toy, and it’s always her go-to out of the toy box.
If your pup if food-motivated, the Bob-a-Lot will gently ease them into pushing, nosing, and interacting with a toy. As your dog moves the wobbly base, dry food will fall out the bottom. Adjust the size of the holes to make the task easier or harder – really make your pup “play” for their dinner!
Although she was initially a little suspicious of this toy, my dog quickly caught on and seemed very proud of herself whenever food came out! We had to switch her to big kibbles that don’t fit in the Bob-a-Lot, and we miss the toy now.
No matter which toy you chose to try, always make play-time a positive experience – be excited, but not overwhelming (aka ditch the squealing pre-teen-girl-at-a-Justin-Beiber-concert voice!). Start off slow, and move at a pace that is comfortable for your pup. You may be dreaming of endless games of rowdy fetch in a field, but your dog might have visions of being left alone with a peanut-butter-stuffed Kong.