You’ve probably had it happen. You bring home a pricey new dog toy, your dog gives it some curious sniffs, and never goes near it again.
As Christmas approaches your dog is probably on your Christmas list. Here are some suggestions for choosing the right type of gift from Discovery News.
Researchers at the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition in Leicestershire, England have been studying dogs and toys for some time.
And I totally want that job.
Imagine getting to play with dogs your whole work day
and calling it research.
What toys appeal most to dogs?
To avoid any future dog toy fails, think of their wolf ancestors stalking dinner. Dogs follow the same instincts when playing.
Dogs enjoy toys the most that they can chase (the prey), make a sound (the dying scream of prey), smell like food, can be torn apart or chewed (the fate of the dead prey).
Dogs are hard wired to investigate any new object, but unless it appeals to their inner wolf, it soon becomes boring. Which explains why they leave toys with hard surfaces to move on to your more interesting expensive shoes or a library book -- new objects with the scent of their human pack.
Or of course their favorite: toilet paper.
In an experiment with Labradors, one of the most playful breeds, researchers found that as soon as a dog got accustomed to the toy, it was no longer interesting to them and boredom set in.
When that happens the solution is for the owner to jump in and play with the toy and the dog.
"For an animal as social as a dog," [a researcher] explained, "toys only become really exciting when they are part of a game with a person. Few toys will sustain a dog's interest for long if the owner is not around to offer encouragement." Source
One of the reasons dogs make good pets is that, like us, they enjoy playing, even as adults, while most other animals (and sadly some humans) grow out of that behavior as they get older.
Dogs exploring their inner wolf can help humans connect with their inner child.