Sharing is an essential skill for dogs.
Like teaching children how to share, training a dog to share toys with other dogs can help them create connections with other animals and their owners.
How can you help your dog learn to share toys during fetch or playtime with another pup?
Bringing your dog to the dog park? Going to your friend’s house to meet their new pup? Adopting a second rescue? In all of these scenarios, your fur baby will likely play around with their toys and other dogs.
Teaching a dog new skills – including sharing – is something every owner should prioritize.
However, dogs have a tendency called resource guarding, which means they protect valuable items, food, locations, or even people from other people or dogs. Dogs will often retrieve an item in a game of fetch, only to keep it out of their owner’s or another dog’s reach.
Resource guarding is a natural instinct in dogs, which can be hard to train around. It is possible, however, to train them to share with others and show them they’ll receive their toys again if they follow commands.
Here are some helpful tips to get your dog to share its toys in no time.
Sharing with you vs. sharing with other dogs
Sharing does not come easily to dogs, especially if you’re encouraging them to share toys with other dogs.
It’s important to start off your sharing training by asking your dog to share their toy with you, a friend, or a family member. After your dog masters this skill, you can train it to share toys with fellow canines.
Understand your dog’s emotional state
There are several factors that contribute to your dog’s sharing capabilities. For example, the emotional state of your dog(s), their perceived value of toys, the purpose of the toy, and the probability and risk of your dog’s non-compliance all play a role in whether or not they will share.
Be aware of these conditions and give your dog the environment they need to feel comfortable sharing and avoid resource guarding. Purchase toys that vary in perceived value – start with low-cost, low-quality toys and move on to more expensive, valuable toys once they begin sharing.
Find the most effective training technique
There are a few training methods you can use to train your dog to share, including:
- Give and trade: Give your dog a treat, but only if they return the toy to you.
- Drop cue: Train your dog to drop a toy on a command, such as a snap, clap, or trigger word.
- Rewards: When your dog turns over its valued toy, be sure to reward him or her with treats, pets, and other rewards.
- Proximity desensitization: In this method, you train your dog to be in close proximity to toys without interacting with them. Teach them to stay calm and avoid touching a toy so they learn that toys should not be guarded like food or other valuable items.
Every dog is different, so it’s important to choose a training method that suits you and your pup.
3 best toy brands for your dog
What are some of the best toy brands for your dog to help them learn how to share? Check out some of your options below.
While your dog is learning to share, they could play too rough with toys, getting into a tug-of-war battle with another pup. This could lead to toys breaking or falling apart. Consider buying sustainable and durable toys that benefit the environment and your wallet.
A popular dog toy brand is KONG – you probably know the red, rubber KONG Classic toy, which you can fill with your dog’s favorite food, like cheese or peanut butter. KONG toys are also good for training your dog to share. You can buy the KONG Dental With Rope and use it as a tool in your sharing training sessions.
The Goughnuts brand produces durable and safe dog toys for both older and younger pups. The toys are nearly indestructible and the brand offers a safety guarantee – if your dog chews through a toy, the company will replace it!
Any dog owner will tell you that training your dog is a challenge. Teaching them to eat at certain times, not to use the carpet as a bathroom, or to get along with other dogs is no easy feat. It takes time, patience, and compassion to train dogs, meaning not everyone is cut out for the job.
Jane Marsh is an environmental writer passionate about pet care and health. To read more of her work, follow her site Environment.co.