Obsessive behavior in dogs is something that is seen quite regularly. Often times they will become possessive over their things, and this can really make them obsessive. Sometimes it may be their food, while other times it may be bones, bedding, or even toys. If your dog has a toy obsession, there are a few things that you can do to help them overcome it.
Here you will find a few tips that will help you when it comes to overcoming your dog’s toy obsession.
Every dog is going to have a unique situation, and a unique WHY when it comes to their obsessive behavior. It isn’t always easy to tell why they may become so attached to a toy, but here are a few tips that will help them to overcome this behavior. After all, it can become quite annoying, especially if they bark up a storm when they can’t find it! If you have never had a late night spent looking for your dog’s toy, then you wouldn’t understand!
1 Ensure that Your Dog is Not Aggressive Over Their Toy
Aggression is common in dogs that have toy obsessions, or any obsession for that matter. If someone has their toy, are they going to try to be aggressive to get it from them? If so, this can be a very dangerous situation. The good news is that there are ways that you can discourage aggression. Sometimes it is even necessary to hire a trainer that will help to stop the aggression. This should be your first priority. If your dog does get aggressive, you may also need to put the toy up for a while so that it is out of their sight.
This is the safest option until you can stop the aggressive behaviors.
2 Have Your Dog ‘Earn’ Time With Their Favorite Toy
If you have had to put the toy up due to aggression, this may not be something that you want to start in on right away. On the other hand, if you are just trying to break their obsessive behaviors, you can incorporate a plan that requires them to earn time with their toy. While you don’t need to make them earn your love and affection, you can use the toy as positive reinforcement to reward their good behavior. Say for instance your dog exhibits signs of self control, you can reward them with thirty minutes or an hour of time with their toy.
The truth is, dogs that have obsessions with things are not typically the best when it comes to self control.
3 Teach Your Dog Obedience
Since a lot of the behavior has to do with a lack of self control, you should know that dogs who are more obedient have much more self controls than dogs that don’t behave. They typically have a lot more respect for people and other animals as well. If your dog has issues when it comes to toy obsessions, then you should consider their obedience level. It may be time to work on the basic obedience commands, which will really help a lot. Some people may not be able to train their dog on their own, and obedience schools are definitely something to consider if you are struggling with your pup.
4 Focus on Simple Commands Such as ‘Drop’ or ‘Leave It’
These simple commands will teach your dog to let something go. While your dog may not do as you say and drop it immediately, if you try trading out the toy for a treat they may be more receptive to the idea. Through this method of positive reinforcement, you will be able to deter your dog from the toy of their obsession. Doing this over and over with your pup will teach them the command of dropping something, and over time treats won’t be necessary.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to surprise them with a treat occasionally just to keep them motivated.
5 Let Your Pup Know Who’s The Boss
If your dog is still having characteristic behaviors of obsession over their toys, then it is time to let them know who the real leader of the pack is.
Sometimes it may mean that you need to put the toy up for a while, so that they understand that the toy is a privilege for them. Perhaps replace the toy with another toy, and watch to see if they still have the same obsessions. Chances are the obsession will be to the one toy in particular, although some dogs do tend to have obsessions to multiple toys, or even bones and treats. While you can’t take all of the toys away, you can make them earn time with their favorites.
This is another way of promoting positive behaviors through positive reinforcement.
What About Medication?
Some pet owners wonder if they should give their dog medication to help treat this type of behavioral problem.
The truth is, medication can help with certain aspects, such as underlying conditions, that may lead to obsessive behaviors. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is what you should do. It is best to talk to your veterinarian about it to get their professional opinion. Sometimes, if stress or anxiety is the cause of their behaviors, medication can help. This is something that is best determined by your veterinarian. Chances are they won’t recommend medication for this type of behavioral issue. They will probably try behavior modification at first to see if it helps before they venture down the road of prescription medications for your pup.
As you can see, there are quite a few things that you can do to help your dog to overcome their toy obsession. While it may not really be unhealthy for your dog to be obsessed to a toy, it can be a risk factor for aggression down the road. Dogs that tend to be obsessed over toys and other items are at a greater risk for becoming possessive and aggressive when it comes to the object of their obsession. This is why it is so very important to help your dog to overcome these behaviors.
Now, if your dog just likes to sleep with a particular toy, or just has a toy that he prefers over the rest, this may not really be a big issue.
Sometimes, however, this is how it all starts out. All obsessions start somewhere. This is why you want to keep an eye on their attitude and behaviors when it comes to their favorite toys. If you start to notice their behaviors changing from excitement about a toy to aggression when the toy isn’t there, then you may have a problem on your hands. Catching it early will really help when it comes to overcoming the problems associated with obsession.
By using these tips for overcoming your dog’s toy obsession, you will be able to correct your dog’s negative behaviors. Don’t let them walk all over you. Sure, dogs enjoy playing with toys and we all know that it is great for them. Just make sure that you are changing out their toys regularly so that they are constantly stimulating themselves with new toys.
You can even find toys that are challenging so that will make them use their intellect. Dogs really love interactive toys, and it may help them with breaking an obsession to another toy. Just remember, you don’t want to swap one obsession for another, so keep rotating out the toys regularly and you should prevent the behaviors.