Play is an integral part of puppyhood, and every puppy has his own desire to play. This desire, commonly referred to as prey drive, varies from puppy to puppy and is a vital facet of teaching a puppy new skills. Increasing play drive in uninterested puppies helps build focus, keeps your puppy stimulated, and speeds up the training process.
Discuss your puppy’s play drive with an experienced trainer. While increasing play drive is not particularly difficult, the wrong technique can complicate future training sessions.
Present the puppy with different toys and see which one she shows the most interest in. Some new toys are exciting for a minute or two, but the puppy will quickly lose interest and wander off. Be patient and give the puppy space to sort through the toys on her own. Use this toy only for drive training.
Call the puppy to you and show her the special toy. Wave it around near her muzzle and talk to her in a high, excited voice. Allow her to bite onto the toy, and tug gently to encourage her to pull against you. This makes the toy seem even more important to the puppy, and she will put all her focus into winning the tug battle.
Release the toy after the puppy has pulled for a few seconds, and lavish her with praise. The more excited the puppy is when she wins the game, the more focused she will be during future play sessions.
Never pull hard when playing with a puppy; excessive force can injure developing teeth and gums.
Keep play sessions short; no more than two, 10-minute sessions a day is enough to stimulate the puppy and boost her play drive.
Watch the puppy closely as she tugs, and let her win when she is keyed in on the toy. A focused puppy keeps her eyes on the toy, has a firm grip, and may growl as she tries to pull it away from you. If she looks elsewhere or seems uninterested, end the session or try another toy.
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