In the previous blogs in this toy series, we have shown you some ways to get your dogs interested in toys, however, if your dog hasn’t shown any interest in toys so far, in this blog we are going to discuss how you can use food to gain your dog’s interest in toys.
One of our favourite ways to do this is by using a particular toy known as a Paws Pocket it’s also known as a cluster ball, lotus ball, or treat pod.
What is a Paws Pocket?
A paws pocket has 3-4 sides which are velcroed together to form a ball in which you can place treats inside. The Paws Pockets can be thrown like a ball and then your dog can open it up with their nose to retrieve the treat.
How to introduce the paws pocket:
To initially introduce a paws pocket it’s really important that we do it in a step-by-step process so that your dog understands how to open up the ball.
The first thing is to get a high-value treat and place it in the center of the ball and all we’re going to do is place it on the floor for a couple of repetitions letting your dog eat the food out of the center of it.
The next step is to close two of the sides very gently and place the food inside, now your dog is going to learn to push into the velcro to get the food out. Repeat this step until your dog is confident to push into the velcro to get the food out. Be sure to only close two of the sides at the moment and do not close all three/four sides as we want your dog to be really confident to get the food out with just two sides closed before we progress.
Once your dog is super confident in pushing into two of the sides to get the food out, we are then going to progress onto shutting the ball completely so that your dog starts to learn how to push through the ball and open it to get the food out.
It’s really important to spend the time on these steps because before we move on to the next step, you want your dog to be super confident in opening the ball by themselves without asking your for help.
Repeat the above step with you standing up to ensure they are happy to open it with you in this new position.
Once your dog is nice and confident at opening the ball whilst you are standing still then what we’re going to do is introduce a little bit of movement. To do this take a small side step, place the ball on the floor and let them open it back up again. You want to repeat this for a few reps until your dog is confident.
Next, we are going to introduce more movement by rolling the ball along the floor for your dog to chase and open. When you do this at home with your dog be sure to start off by rolling the ball just a short distance, then as they become more confident you can start to add additional distance rolling the ball further and further.
In this next step, you’re going to take your Paws Pocket and pierce a small hole in between two sides. You’re then going to take a rope about two meters long and thread it through the hole and tie a knot so that it’s secure on the end of the extension.
Next, take the Paws Pocket and put a treat inside, just like in the previous steps however this time you are going to throw it out and then start to move the toy along the ground to create chase. It’s important at this stage that you don’t let the chase last very long and that you only hold the toy a little distance from your dog’s nose and not a big distance so they feel it’s achievable to catch.
Also at this stage, it is best to let go of the toy as soon as your dog bites onto it as we want to reinforce them for biting onto the toy, as you progress with your dog you can start to make the chase longer and you can also start to let go of the toy later so that you can start to develop a tug.
Cut the rope down bit by bit until you have a shorter handle which is more convenient for tugging with, then it’s time to swap to a smaller toy.
A lot of the time the toy you swap to depends on your dog’s mouth shape and size and what they find the easiest to grip onto, if you find that your dog is gripping onto the ball really nice and consistently then a toy like the one below is ideal where the main focus is the ball at the bottom:
However, if your dog has got a little bit of a smaller mouth and biting just above the Paws Pocket, I’d suggest using a toy like the one below, where you’ve got a nice soft surface area for them to grip onto so that you can get into a nice comfortable tug.
All toys shown in the video can be purchased at www.pawstrading.co.uk