If your dog enjoys games with toys, take the games up a notch by teaching her the names of her toys. To do this, you’ll need two toys, a training clicker — or marker word, such as “yes” — and some yummy treats.
- Pick one toy and give it a name — let’s say a fuzzy hedgehog, named “Hedgie.”
- Hold the toy where your dog can reach it, wiggle it to call her attention, and say, “Hedgie!” When she looks at or touches Hedgie, click or say “yes,” and reward with treats.
- Repeat this 10 times or more, until she starts touching or putting her mouth on the toy. When she’s doing this at least 90 percent of the time, wiggle the toy and set it on the floor. Say, “Hedgie!” Click and reward when she looks at or touches it. If it takes her a few moments to figure out what to do, help her by touching the toy and saying its name again.
- Click and reward each time she touches it when you say “Hedgie!”
- Put the toy in different spots, naming it each time you put it down. Your dog will soon touch it after you say its name, wherever you put it. If your dog plays fetch, have her fetch Hedgie when you ask for it by name.
- Play this game using only Hedgie for three days, then teach her the name of another toy, training through the same steps as with the first. When she’s learned the name of the new toy, bring Hedgie back out and practice with two toys.
- Gradually teach more names, and play the game with more toys.