Monday, February 25, 2008

zee Monkey and the Tail

Since Ike was still restricted to a bland diet (ends today!), I did no “training” with him this weekend. We worked on building play drive! Which with Ike, is training – he just doesn’t KNOW it is training!

I mentioned I picked up all sorts of new toys at Clean Run a few weekends ago super cheap. The jackpot toys were more or less busts; Ike isn’t a huge squeaky guy. And in Ike’s mind, if there is food involved then it is about the food not the playing. However he ADORES, and all-caps is understating it, his new raccoon tail and monkey!

I am not sure I have mentioned the monkey yet. It is very small and soft and has a battery activated voice box inside it that screeches like a monkey if thrown or pounced on. Ike goes crazier for the monkey than his pink kitty, which is hard to believe! He has already ripped a hole in the monkey and Ike doesn’t typically destroy toys.

I am going up to Clean Run in a couple of weeks and I will be investing in quite a few of these little monkeys and another raccoon tail. Ike has NEVER been willing to tug, not with me and not with another dog. Well, guess what? With both the raccoon tail and the monkey – he is willing to tug over it! Be still my beating heart.

Moment of honesty (big cringe) – although I have a low-toy drive dog I have never been that diligent about trying to build toy drive in Ike. I have read Susan Garrett’s article about building a motivating toy, and other articles on the same topic. I just never quite bought into the idea that you can turn a specific toy into something that gets your low-drive dog uber-excited. I think part of my reserve was that Ike had one favorite toy (the pink kitty) and most of these “build-a-motivating-toy” plans involve restricting access to the favorite toy. Goofball that I am, I didn’t want to restrict access to Ike’s favorite toy. Then all the toys I tried to create motivation about weren’t as exciting as the pink kitty to Ike, or in the case of jackpot toys the food trumped the play factor.

Enter the Raccoon Tail and the Monkey. Ike is so excited by these two toys! Since I bought these toys with the sole purpose of creating a motivating toy I have no hesitation about restricting access to them. Well, damn if these are not these most exciting toys Ike has ever seen. He goes CRAZY for them – when he sees them in my hand he starts walking on his hind legs (not something Ike does typically); when thrown Ike tears after them faster than I have EVER seen him move.

Morale of the story: Keep searching for something your dog gets excited about. Keep trying different things, and when you find IT …. The rumors are true, you really can turn your low toy drive dog crazy.

I am being VERY careful about stopping the play when Ike is still desperate to keep playing and of course, access is restricted to the Monkey and the Tail. I have to take these toys out for Ike to be able to play with them.

I have not tried to get Ike to play outside of the house yet, but I have spent a few weeks building excitement about the toys and I am planning on bringing them to class on Tuesday. I will NOT use them for agility yet. My plan is to just try and get Ike to play with me in the barn and we will take it from there!


manymuddypaws said...

good for you for finding something that he loves...I have seen and heard the monkey toy...I can hear it now actually...the screeching can't be fun to listen to! But hey, if it works then it works!

JULES & IKE said...

Heh, heh...the monkey screeching is actually better than his pink kitty V.3 which is on it's last legs and sounds like I do not know what!! if you can imagine.... ;-)