Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tug-A-Jugs

Whenever I find something really good, I'll share it with you. Well all my trainer friends are going nuts over this toy from Premier Pets. You put kibbles in the plastic jug part (the bottom unscrews for this) and your dog plays at getting them out.



This is a HIGH VALUE toy and you can use this to assist your training. Let's say, for example, you've been working on the "come" command. Your dog is used to getting a click and a treat for coming when called, but if you mix up the reward a bit and introduce something amazingly wonderful, you can plan to pull THIS out from under your jacket and give it to your dog to play with for a few minutes. Dogs love surprises.



Remember, your dog should not have constant access to all its toys all the time. That creates boredom. Get some good ones and save them to use as a reward. In order to "rev up their value" in the dog's eyes, introduce them the first time to your dog fully loaded with kibbles and a few smelly soft treats (a few bits of cheddar cheese, for example, or -- and use this very sparingly-- a few pieces of turkey hot dog ). Hold the toy and show it to your dog like it's the most prized possesion you've ever had. Act playful and happy and pretend to eat and nibble at the toy. Get that, "Oh boy, look what I'VE got!" look on your face. Run around the room with it and then let your dog smell it. Play with it together a bit, then once your dog loves it too, bring out another treat and trade your dog for the new toy (don't say "come" though-- don't ever say "come" and take your dog's toy away-- that makes you a Grinch). Now whisk it away and bring it out again when you want to reward a behavior.

Another example of using this kind of toy would be to give it to your dog when you put him into his crate and have to leave him alone for awhile (these are sturdy but if your dog is large and strong and is in the super chewy-destructive stage, don't leave any toy with him while he's unattended. You could be paying a vet to fish plastic out of his intestines, if you do!). Those of you who have dogs who get anxious when you leave can hide a few of these in the yard for your dog to find and interact with in your absence. (Stuffing and freezing some Natural Balance semi-moist dog food into a Kong toy is good for that, too).

You can get these Tug-A-Jugs in all sizes at Centinela in Redondo Beach. Pet Foods Market in Lunada Bay doesn't carry them, I checked (rats, because I love that store and want to support it). Petco in Rolling Hills has one small and two mediums in stock right now.

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