Tobi doesn't know how to play!

Posted by Don-Kettle
Aug 17, 2011
I adopted a Sheltie mix aged 5 just 2 years ago. He walks well on the leash, eats well, sits and gives a paw, likes his tummy rub and sleeps in his crate at night. He did suffer from anxiety disorder by peeing outside his crate when we went out for a couple of hours or so but that has been cured with medication from the Vet.
However, he will not play either with a ball or a squeeky toy and loves to go to sleep under the table. How do I get him to play and stay away from going under the table?
Posted by KOPCaroline
Aug 18, 2011
Hi Don,

Cute! Happy for you and your new addition

As far as sleeping under the table - any time you see him going for it, immediately give a no/out command. Give him lots of good boys if he obeys, but if he persists in going under there, just go after him, get him up, and say "out" again. Do it EVERY time he goes near the table! Just be persistant, remove him if necessary. Before long, he should respond to just the "out" command, and then he will get the idea altogether and just stop going there.

My own dog did the same sort of thing - he'd always lie in front of the doors (front or back). So everytime I caught him there or saw him going there, I'd just say "out!" and snap my fingers for emphasis. He caught on pretty quickly and just stopped lying there altogether.

For toys - have you just tried balls and squeakers? Some dogs just dont respond to some toys. If you want to keep trying, be sure that you personally are way over-the-top, super excited about the toy and have SUCH a good time with it It sounds silly, but just try to work your dog up over it before even giving it to him. This sometimes helps a lot. If you have any friends with dogs, try playing with them with the ball/toy and see if that encourages your dog to join in.

Or, you can try other kinds of toys to see if they interest him - ropes for tugging, big air balls for bouncing around, frisbees, even a coke bottle with holes punched in it and some doggy kibble inside (homemade Kong toy!). Maybe he will react better to other stimuli?

Hope this helps, please let us know how you go! Good luck
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Aug 19, 2011
Hi Don,

Thank you for adopting Tobi and working on his separation disorder.

So Tobi was already 3 yrs old when you adopted him and you don't know what his first 3 yrs were like... I think he never had a chance to learn how to fetch a ball or play with toys

Some of my foster dogs never showed any interest to any toys or balls but by looking at my own 3 dogs playing with each other, or a toy or a ball, they figured out how to play within a week or two.

My current 10 mos old foster dog (Cappy) that is very shy and timid didn't show any interest in toys or balls for the first 2 wks. I took him to a field with one of my dogs who loves fetch and threw a ball for Noah. Cappy started to run after Noah and soon he learned to run after a ball when I throw one for him. He then learned to bring it all the way back to me as he realized that the ball would get thrown again if he brought it back to me.

Now he has even learned to chew the ball while we take a break by watching Noah doing that

Does Tobi have dog friends? If he does, he will learn how to play with toys through playing with, or just watching them. Taking him to a dog park is also good. Show him a lot of fun plays that other dogs are engaged.

If you don't have either resources, then have him sit in front of you. Place a tiny treat on the floor covered with a squeaky toy. Encourage him to take the treat. He will probably push the toy away with his nose, or with his paw. Everytime he finds the treat, squeak the toy.

Now, show him the squeaky toy and squeak once. When he looks at the toy, give him a tiny treat. Squeak, then a treat. Do this everyday until he intentionally picks it up and squeak. If he does, make a big deal and give him a treat!!

Once he learns that it is fun to play with a toy, he will probably picks up a toy and throw it in the air and chase it and bite it and squeak it..... and you will reglet you taught him how to play with a squeaking toy

But, the most efficient and quickest way to learn how to play with toys is to actually see what other dogs are doing with them.

As for hiding under the table, I agree with Caroline. As I said my current foster dog loves to hide being so time and scared. I try to coax him to come out with treats, or even by grabbing his collar. After dragging him out, I always find something good for him, such as going for walk or giving him treats or pat and praise. Blocking under the table with chairs also helps.