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My dog is an active 13-year-old (small dog). He will not play. He never has, not with toys of any kind nor with me (fetch, etc.). We think he had been abused before we got him, abused by being housebroken using old-fashioned punishment-based methods. Of course he is bored. How do I keep him from being bored?
 

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Some dogs just aren't that into toys. My GSD, who I've had since she was four months old, and who is now eight years old, has never been particularly interested in them. What she does like is playing with food (chasing a tossed treat, chasing a treat in my hand, and searching for kibble thrown into the grass, and the like) and personal play (tag, chase me, etc). And even those didn't come naturally. I had to teach her.

I know of a few blog posts, on teaching your dog to play, but the best resource I know is an online class.

This is the first blog, on chasing a treat in your hand. Food Play - "Prey Hand" ~ Denise Fenzi's Blog
This one includes the link to a free podcast on playing with your dog. Free podcast on play with Denise ~ Denise Fenzi's Blog

This class is a paid ($50) self study class, meaning that it doesn't have discussion or homework forums like a live class, but it's still an excellent resource, and how I finally figured out how to play with my GSD. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - FE101: Relationship Building Through Play

To keep him entertained without you having to interact with him, you can give him puzzle toys, like a Kong stuffed with canned food and other goodies and then frozen, cardboard boxes filled with crumpled paper with treats that he can look for, toss a handful of kibble onto the floor or into the yard for him to find, and stuff like that.
 

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Thank for replying, LeoRose. Those are excellent tips. I have tried a couple of them and failed, but I willl try the others, including the blogs you suggest. I really appreciate your thorough and useful assistance.
 

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My dog is an active 13-year-old (small dog). He will not play. He never has, not with toys of any kind nor with me (fetch, etc.). We think he had been abused before we got him, abused by being housebroken using old-fashioned punishment-based methods. Of course he is bored. How do I keep him from being bored?
I went through a very similar problem with one of my dogs before, then we found this extremely cool foggy water fountain thing. All you do is hook the hose up to it and when your dog steps on the pedal it squirts water up. Pup loved it and really started engaging more...was also very entertaining to watch! I’ll post link to where I bought it.

 

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This is an interesting topic to me. I have a 3.5 yr old GSD. He loves to play fetch with a ball, and will play chase other dogs, but is interested in toys or prey type games. I don't really care, since he seems happy and will play ball, but his agility trainer seems to think I should train him to play with tugs toys and train him to do prey drive games. She and I went around with this one time, and I left that night feeling frustrated and inept for not insisting he play and like it! Several times she says "train the dog you have" meaning don't insist he do things exactly my way, be flexible. Then she insists he learn to play tug, chase a toy and like it. I have had him a year and a half, and he has done very will with training, got his AKCGC. We started agility just to give him confidence, as he had a very sheltered puppy-
hood. What do you all think of training him to play games he isn't interested in?
 
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