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You give your dog a new toy only to find he/she neglects it after seconds of play? You may be able to avoid this from happening in the future as a recently released study is shedding light into which toys will either interest or bore your dog. The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition reveals why some dogs lose interest in a toy just after a minutes play while other toys become their favorites. John Bardshaw, co-author of the study and a researcher of University of Bristol’s Veterinary School says that because we think that dogs perceive toys in the same way that wolves perceive prey, they prefer toys that either taste like food or can be torn apart, however the latter can cause health problems if the dog accidentally swallows some of the pieces. Anne Pullen, co-author and also at University of Bristol added that dog toys should be “soft, easily manipulable toy that can be chewed easily and or make a noise’. She also points out that dogs quickly lose interest in toys with hard unyielding surfaces, and those that don’t make a noise when manipulated.”
The research team offered the dogs toys of varying types, including different colors and smells. Then the dogs were given a unique toy that contrasted with whatever one the dogs were plaing with first. The dogs showed intense but transient interest for all the toys. Dogs are wired to explore any new object, whether its a toy or not. In the case of toys, the study showed that dogs become used to them too quickly which then leads to boredom and neglected toys. Changing the delay from habituation to presentation of the second toy, between 10 seconds and 15 minutes, did not affect the dogs’ duration of play. No single toy characteristic altered the test results much either, suggesting that getting used to the stimulus qualities of a toy, be they through smell, sound, color, texture, is the clincher for dog boredom.
There is a solution, you, the owner need to jump in and play with the dog and toy too. “For an animal as social as a dog,” Bradshaw explains, “toys only become really exciting when they are part of a game with a person. Few toys will sustain a dog’s interest for long if the owner is not around to offer encouragement.” He adds, “If a dog has to be left on its own, it is most likely to enjoy toys that can be chewed, make a noise when played with, or are designed to be eaten as they disintegrate (such as a chew).” The wonderful thing with dogs is, they are always up for a play, even as adults. Some animals mostly only play when they are young and grow out of the behaviour as they grow older.
Want to get your dog engaged? Here are two great online stores selling innovative brain teaser products which will help your dog’s mind stay active and away from boredom: