Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets - Playtime

Toys and Games for Border Collies and Golden Retrievers

Border Collie and Golden Retrievers Toys and Games hunting gamrs

Just like humans, dogs are by nature
hunter-killers and scavengers

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Puppies and dogs like human children and adults play games that rehearse or provide a substitute for their basic survival instincts, so whilst humans may compete at team sports to fulfil their tribal-dominance instincts without fighting one another, Border Collies and Golden Retrievers can chase and retrieve toys to satisfy their hunt instinct without actually perusing and catching prey animals. Because of a dogs basic survival instincts certain types of toys and games are attractive to them, these toys and games enable them to satisfy their hunter-killer instinct and are natural and well suited to the dog's physical and psychological abilities and needs, the types of toys that dogs prefer are appropriate to these games and these behaviours.

Border Collie and Golden Retrievers Toys and Games retrieve games

Dogs prefer toys that allow them to practice
their natural behaviour

It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that games are played within the bounds of good manners, encourage sociable and acceptable behaviour and do not pose a threat to the dog or his human companions by getting out of hand or encouraging dangerous or antisocial actions. It is also the responsibility of the owner to ensure that her or his dog plays with safe, well designed and well constructed toys that do not pose a threat to the dog's health or well being.

Border Collie and Golden Retrievers Toys and Games foraging games

Good toys will satisfy a dogs natural instincts

Puppies are born with the potential to manifest all the behaviours of their wild ancestors, seeking pray, chasing, killing, carrying off, tearing up their kill, guarding their food and devouring it without delay, they are also born with the instinct and need to live within a pack, interacting with those around them, seeking promotion, respecting their leaders, demanding respect from their juniors, guarding the pack territory and joining in the pack activities. In addition puppies will develop all the instincts necessary to survive in the wild, fear of strange objects and animals, the fight instinct and the flight instinct, the stoicism to hide pain or injury. In fact instincts and behaviours very similar to those of humans, which may be why mankind and dogs have been such good friends for such a very long time.

Border Collie and Golden Retrievers Toys and Games possession games

Very young puppies are already equipped with a
full set of canine instincts and behaviours

With human children we recognise that instinct has to be tempered by manners and restraint if they are to grow into sociable, good natured adults, so we train children from an early age according to the rules of our society. Puppies similarly need to learn that their natural instincts must be kept under control and that they too must obey societies rules, training in this respect should start before they leave they breeder with the discouragement of play biting and dominant puppy behaviours. The new owner is responsible for building on the patterns of good behaviour started by the breeder but where the breeder has made little or no effort to establish good and discourage unwanted, behaviour that task will be the more difficult. With an older puppy or dog perhaps from rescue, where no effort has been made by either the breeder or subsequent owner(s) the new owner may have to start from scratch.

Border Collie and Golden Retrievers Toys and Games chewing and play biting

Puppies are natural biters but any kind of biting, at
any age, is unacceptable and should be discouraged

Puppies should be taught what does and what does not constitute acceptable behaviour from the start and should not be indulged because they are "only puppies", for example we don' t allow toddlers to hit people or animals even though they are often instinctively violent if frustrated, so neither should puppies be allowed to play-bite even though they do so from instinct rather than malice. Children often like to play rough and can be quite violent to each other, this may be natural but sensible adults discourage such behaviour because it is not acceptable in our society, similarly some dogs like to play games of physical dominance like tug o' war but as we do not want dominant behaviour or physical one upmanship from our dogs we should discourage this type of play between dogs and people.

Border Collie and Golden Retrievers Toys and Games tugging games
Puppies begin to challenge from a young age

Some training methods are based around encouraging a dog to develop an obsession with a toy so that the dog becomes anxious when deprived of that toy and will work hard to please the owner in order to regain the toy as a reward. Sometimes owners overexcite their dogs in games with the toy in order to create or sustain the obsession, these games are usually based around tug'o'war or constant throwing and retrieving. We do not use these methods, border collies in particular are prone to obsessive behaviour and encouraging this does not produce a well balanced and sociable dog, there is little merit in having a dog who is very obedient only because he has been allowed to develop an addiction to a toy, nor is there much value in owning a companion animal whose relationship is focussed on a toy rather than on his owner. We also avoid situations and games that overexcite dogs and encourage confrontational behaviour between owner and dog, tug'o'war is about dominance and about testing not about build the owner-dog relationship. Our dogs play tugging games with one another as part of their pack relationship but are trained to drop toys or other articles if a human reaches for or touches it.

Border Collie and Golden Retrievers Toys and Games ownership games

Tugging game are appropriate between dogs
but not between dogs and their people

Try to play games that build up your relationship with your dog and avoid confrontational or "testing" games that pit you and your dog against each other. The best plaything you dog can have is you, so try to play with him rather than just be someone who throws balls for him.

Border Collie and Golden Retrievers Toys and Games water games

Play games that build your relationship with your dog

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