Al's Dog Training Tips

Special Toys – Finding Them and What To Do

The topic today is special toys, finding them, and what to do. It’s always a joy for me when I get to see dogs playing with a new toy. I’ve actually heard lots of stories over the years, like how a dog always knows whenever they’re bringing in a special toy, or he knows where we hide them. Stories about how they’ll sit right next to them, and they will wine until they get the new toy. We know that dogs really love playing with toys. And so today, I wanted to give you just a little bit of insight into something that I do with my dogs and their toys.

As you all know, I have three German Shepherds. I have Gabby, Alpha, and Jericho. With the three of them, it’s always important for me to find toys that they really like. Over the past few weeks, I’m racking up quite the bill for all the different toys I’m going through to discover which ones my dogs like the best.

Fetch and Tug

Now, in general, dogs like to play the games of fetch and tug. But there are so many variations on how you can play that game and the object you’re going to be using to play it. So as I’m going through this process of buying toys, I really watch how the dog is interacting and which one they’re going to choose more often than not. I think that it’s worthwhile to discover something that a dog may really like?

I want to make sure that I bring this up anytime that you give a dog new toys. That new toy may actually have more value at that moment for the dog, but that value will quickly disappear, and the dog will maybe go back to something else that it’s more familiar with. So I always tend to discount the novelty of toys as I’m going through the selection of finding that one special toy that the dog keeps coming back to time and time again.

That One Special Toy

Today I was working with a dog, and we had several toys. We had some rope toys, which the dog did not want to play with. We had some Kong squeaky tennis balls. And then, I also brought in a Kong Wubba, which is in the shape of a Kong, but it has a nice canvas wrapping to it. This was a special toy because you could see that the dog was very interested in it. So it’s a good candidate to really be that one special toy.

I ended up telling my clients at the end of the session that now that we know that the Kong has some value, keep watching it to see. Does it have more value than the tennis balls that you’ve been giving your dog? If it does, this toy is not to be left out with the other common toys that the dog can play with because it has a unique value to the dog. We would keep it locked away, but we would bring it out daily to do some exercises.

Puppy Push-Ups

Now with the clients I was working with, who I was giving this specific advice to, started to work on a portion of the puppy pushups. For those that aren’t familiar with this term, a puppy push-up is basically a dog going from a stand into a sit, then into a down, back into a sit, and then into a stand. So we started to work this particular dog from the sit to the down and then back into the sit. And then we were rewarding the dog with the Kong Wubba.

So if you can find that one special toy that your dog really likes, don’t leave it out to make it commonplace. Make it come out, especially when you’re going to do some fun training. Especially if it’s something like position training, trick training, or even a little focus healing. You can really use this toy to get the dog to focus even more and even build some speed into your exercises.

I hope that one was useful for you all. I did mention a couple of toys, and some of these toys are available here on my website at So be sure to check those out, too.

Happy Training!

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