Training with Toys

By Anu Maurya

Dog toys are essential dog training aids. They make the training exercise fun for both the handler and the dog. Some tips on using toys in dog training:

  • Not chew toys
    Dog training toys are not chew toys, they are training aids. The dog only gets to play with it when you are training.
  • Interactive
    The training reward is you playing with your dog. If the toy is tossed, the dog should either wait for you to come and play with him, or bring the toy back to you for toy play.  If the dog runs away with the toy, use toys that have strings attached or don’t toss the toy. The toy should be lifeless until you activate it by playing with it.
  • Different levels of value
    Similar to treats, have different levels of value of training toys. For instance, the toy you use to train in an environment with distractions should be of higher value than the toy you use to train at home.
  • Work with the dog you have
    Some dogs are more treat motivated, where as some get very excited with toys. There are different types of training toys out there, use the toy that works for your dog. For dogs that get very excited with toys, alternate toys and treats. Toys bring up a dog’s energy and treats calm the dog. By alternating both, you are tuning your dog’s energy level to what works for you.  With time, your dog will learn to adjust their energy level when you train with toys.

Types of Training Toys

Treat dispensing

These are great for treat motivated dogs.

In these, you can place either treats or squeakers:

💡 Tips

  • show your dog that you are placing (high value) treats in the toy
  • do an exercise, and reward your dog by opening the toy and letting your dog eat out of the toy, while the toy is in your hand
  • as your dog gets comfortable, you can try adding toy play like animating the toy, tugging, tossing the toy …
  • after each toy play or exercise, reward your dog by opening the toy for them to eat out of.


For Puppies

These toys are great for young dogs or dogs that aren’t very toy motivated. You can animate the toy and bring out the dog’s natural chase instinct.

Udder Tug Toys

These are made from recycled rubber liners used in machines to milk cows. They are great for dogs that like rubber textures.

Furry Tug Toys

These are made of different materials that have different textures and scents.

K9TL and BarkLogs is not affiliated with the sites quoted above. The list is a guide only, there are many, many dog training toys out there. In fact, any toy your dog likes is a dog training toy. If you have a favorite toy you like to train with or have any training tips, feel free to comment on this post!

3 comments August 25th, 2013

Release Command

By Anu Maurya

The release command is used to tell your dog that they are done with the current exercise. The exercise can be in obedience, agility and everyday tasks, such as letting your dog out of the car.

There is a slight difference in Obedience and Agility. In Obedience, the release is done after the exercise is over, for instance, after a long sit stay. In Agility, the dog starts off in a “sit”, while the handler positions him/herself on the course and from a distance, releases the dog to start (run) the course. Technically the dog is being released from a “sit”.

I used “All Done!” when training obedience. But after doing agility, I have changed to a neutral word that doesn’t signify a beginning or end. I use “Free!” as my release word. I could have had two words, one for signaling that an exercise is over (“All Done!”) and one for releasing a dog from sit/down stay to a run, such as “Lets go!” or “Run!”. But I found it a lot easier to have one generic word that could be used in all context. Plus, I didn’t want to add more commands to my list, I already have enough to keep track off : ).

Choosing the release word is really up to you. There are no rules for it, as long as the behavior trained is consistent. A few helpful tips are:

  • the word is easy to say
  • is intuitive to you
  • don’t pick a word that you might accidently say

Common release words:

  • Okay
  • Release
  • Free
  • Go on

Some fun ones:

  • Whoosh
  • Whoopi
  • Yay!

Here is a link to a training video on how to teach the release command using clicker training:

You don’t have to use a clicker. I taught my dogs in a slightly different way. I will try to put together a video for it.



Add comment May 25th, 2013

Training Session (Feb 12, 2011)

(To enlarge, click on a photo or click here to view entire album)



4 comments February 12th, 2011

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