Lily-like all my dogs before her-can’t play with toys. I’ve always been slightly envious watching puppies running after a ball or tugging on a piece of rope. My dogs have to be taught to use objects for fun. I use the same, simple technique: reward Lily for first touching the toy, then for attempting to play, then for a proper game.
Dogs are one of very few species that play, even as adults. There’s a theory they might be doing it entirely for pleasure, too (not just to learn). The reason might be the process of domestication, but as often in the research on dogs’ behaviour, scientists seem to be divided as to why dogs play or even if they play. However, their playfulness is often given as one of the reasons why we like being with them. For me, apart from the pure joy of it, playing with Lily is useful in strengthening our bond, reshaping her unwanted reactions to stimuli and making us learn about each other. And, after all, we both need our daily dose of oxitocin and prolactin 😉
Yesterday, for the first time since Ardbeg’s death, Lily went to her toy box and after a short rummage, took out her pheasant, brought it to me and invited me to play. I don’t remember last time something made me that happy.
We name Lily’s toys because we want her to learn English.
Well, we want her to learn some English and Norwegian words receptively (recognise them) but it doesn’t sound as impressive as the previous sentence 🙂 It also helps when you don’t want your dog to play with objects that are not toys (shoes, socks) or someone else’s toys (cats’ toys in our house)
My ideas on play are influenced by M. Bekoff, C.Allen, A. Miklosi, L.E. Vincent, L.L. Sharpe and others.