Neither Jelly nor Lucy have ever shown a bit of interest in dog toys. How odd. The first time I presented either one with a squeaky toy, they literally shrunk back in horror! "GAAAA! What IS that thing? Take it away!" No amount of fooling around, tossing it, or even holding it in my teeth and growling could get them interested. I was used to my old yellow lab who, when presented with a new toy, would virtually turn herself inside out! "For me? For me? YAY!!! I can toss it and bite it and gut it? YAY!"
My theory about Jelly and Lucy is that they spent all their "formative years" in cages as part of puppy mills - their lives were to produce litter after litter. They don't know what toys are or what to do with them. In fact, they were afraid of lots of things when they first came into our lives - snow, grass, loud noises, TREATS! Yep, the first time either dog was presented with a hand-fed treat, they pulled back, then stepped forward and sniffed cautiously. They nosed it, licked it, and finally - reluctantly - took it in their teeth. They spit it out and walked around it suspiciously. Once they actually ate it, however, they were HOOKED! LOL But I digress.....(what else is new?)
So here we are - Jelly and me - with no agility class for 2 months. What to do? Karen Pryor has an exercise she calls (I'm paraphrasing) "100 Things To Do With A Box" and it's about capturing and shaping behaviors with the click. I was in the garage the other day and spied a soccer ball left over from the days when my kids tried (and failed miserably) to be soccer players. ("A speeding ball? AAGGH!! Get it away from me!") I had a light bulb moment - we could play with that ball!
I brought the ball inside and set it on the kitchen floor in front of Jelly. She looked at it, looked at me, and then went off, sniffing the floor in search of crumbs. Well, clearly this was going to be a challenge! I donned ye olde bum bag full of treats and thought, "Well, let the games begin!" How's it working out, you ask? I'll let ya know..................
"Men cannot think like dogs.... [There exists] a sharp difference in the mental capacity of humans and canines. For example, a human who is given an intricate problem will spend all day trying to solve it, but a canine will have the sense to give up and do something else instead."