Do dogs prefer objects they think belong to their owners to their own toys?

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Do dogs prefer objects they think belong to their owners to their own toys?

This is a discussion on Do dogs prefer objects they think belong to their owners to their own toys? within the Dog Gear and Supplies forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I posted on the Health forum that my dog went blind due to Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration at the start of last Summer. Before she ...

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Old 11-04-2014, 10:33 AM
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Do dogs prefer objects they think belong to their owners to their own toys?

I posted on the Health forum that my dog went blind due to Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration at the start of last Summer. Before she went blind, she used to like playing fetch, but obviously she couldn't do that when she had lost her sight. But she also used to love playing tug-of-war, and for some reason she won't do that since going blind, which surprised me a bit because I didn't think she'd need sight to play it. The only toy she'd play with since going blind was her food-dispensing bone (plastic bone that she uses her paw to role over to get food out of).

I was given some suggestions by members of this forum about toys specially designed for blind dogs, based on smell and sound, which I am looking into for Anna's Christmas presents.

Well, today Anna chose her own toy: my Dad's slippers. She played tug-of-war with them. I'm not sure why them and not her old tug-of-war toys (a thick rope and a rubber pull toy), but she was enjoying herself - and she initiated the game; she was trying to get my Dad's attention for play by nipping round his ankles, then grabbed his slipper and pulled! So my Dad has told me to get him a new pair of slippers and he'll let Anna have the old pair. I did wonder whether Anna would want a new pair, but I think that part of their attraction for her is knowing that they're my Dad's and that she's being a bit naughty by playing with them? She's like this with blankets - she has her own blankets, but if she can she'll always sneak onto mine. When I've donated my blankets to her, she doesn't want them so much and wants my new ones.

Do you think Anna likes the slippers more than her own toys because they're my Dad's, and wouldn't be so pleased about new ones given straight to her? Do your dogs prefer objects they think belong to you?

She's been blind months now and has never tried to play with the slippers before, so I'll get out her old toys and see whether she may be happier about them now, perhaps she's got used to being blind enough to play now.

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Old 11-04-2014, 12:40 PM
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Well, dogs are mentally like small human children and children always want your stuff. Why wouldn't they? If it's awesome enough that you want it, why wouldn't a child or dog want it?

Then there's the added layer of it smelling like you, which is comforting to a dog.

I'd try her toys again, maybe she's feeling playful again. Also, blind dogs can play fetch. They can follow the sounds of a ball bouncing, or you can put a smell on it, like lavender, and they can sniff out the ball.
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Old 11-05-2014, 08:53 AM
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Remy holds my socks In her mouth until I get home a lot of the time! Lucy is the underwear destroyer...

I think it's ompletely normal for them to take things that belong to you to play with, and I can see that being heightened with a blind dog

Maybe sleep with her Christmas presents for a while?
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Old 11-05-2014, 09:38 AM
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I think it had more to do with her wanting to initiate play and grabbing the nearest object for a tug toy. Whatever the reason, I'm glad to hear she initiated a game of tug.

One of my dogs went blind in her senior years. She still played fetch with her ball. It was more of a scent hunt than anything else but she loved it just the same. I threw the ball in open areas that she could easily negotiate and her nose did the rest.
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Old 11-05-2014, 10:29 AM
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She did the same again with the slipper this morning, so now that's hers and I've ordered my Dad a new pair. Hopefully she'll still think of them as my Dad's for a while even once he's stopped wearing them. She'll probably gradually rip them apart as that's what she used to do with her other toys - pull them to bits in between playing catch, tug-of-war, etc. with them.

I tried seeing if she could follow the sound of a toy bouncing and fetch it, but she wasn't interested.
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Old 11-05-2014, 11:15 AM
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Nemo is a little sock monster. He prefers fluffy socks to white socks, but it's always my socks or my mother's socks. He has absolutely no interest in anyone else's socks. I do think it's a scent thing. We had a tiny dog house in the living room for him to have his own space and he lined it with my dirty socks. (Unfortunately for him I went in and stole them all back every weekend for laundry.)
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Old 11-05-2014, 11:22 AM
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If you want something a little easier to replace than slippers, try making a tug toy by tying a tea-towel in a knot. My dog finds these irresistable and she's not a big fan of toys (actively disliked ball-on-a-rope style tugs). Might be the "really a human's" factor at play there as well.
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Old 11-05-2014, 01:58 PM
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I think some dogs are just more play oriented than others. How you raised her could also have an effect.

My border collie will play with ANYTHING. It's kind of a perk because if we're somewhere out and he gets bored, I can make a paper cup or plastic bottle into a toy. Or his own leash. I also encouraged this when he was a pup. He was NEVER punished or reprimanded for putting things in his mouth. We shaped chewing into a retrieve through play, and he's solid on it and has been solid since the age of 3 or 4 months.

Somebody in my flyball class though....Her pup is 5 month old and she struggles with basics/foundation stuff (like a retrieve). The pup is not very driven or toy oriented in the first place. But instead of encouraging it any way she can, she has smacked him with objects that he DOES decide to play with and chew on. She's turned it into a bad thing. As a result, I can tell that he's very conflicted about it at practice. I think they struggle to distinguish between "ok" items and "not ok" items sometimes. It's easier for them to generalize that "things in mouth makes bad things come", at least when mom is around, when harsher punishments are used like that. With more positive based, gentle training, it leaves dogs unafraid to play with items and be frisky and initiate play like Anna did.

Anyway, if Anna already loves to play and that's something you've encouraged, it could just be the nearest object she could find. Your dad's scent on it could also have had an effect, if that made it easier for her to find due to her poor vision.
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Old 11-05-2014, 02:12 PM
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Interesting topic.

My Lab only plays with things that I have previously given to him. I've never punished him for picking up wrong things with his mouth, because he's never actually done it. He did destroy a thing or two when young, but that's different.

He will not pick up and play with anything that's not been given to him before.

The process of giving it to him means that he gets a 'sit' command and a 'take it' command. Once he takes it, he will never hesitate the pick it up again (whether by command or free will), even months later. But, if he's not been given it, he won't take it.

For the past 2 years I've left TV remotes, shoes and other standard household items around w/o worry.

When it's time to play, he'll either go and find one of his 'given' toys to bring and shove into me, or I'll tell him to "go get your toy" and he'll go grab whichever one of his 'given' items.

In summary, based on my experience, there seems to be some level of distinction between which items are fair game to play with and which aren't.
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Old 11-05-2014, 02:29 PM
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I think dogs intrinsically find comfort and pleasure in anything with their owner's scent on it. It smells just like you!

I'd suggest that you see if you can't find something from this line (or a similar product), scents of security:
Amazon.com : Petlinks Scents of Security Comforting Dog Toy, Blanket : Pet Toys : Pet Supplies Amazon.com : Petlinks Scents of Security Comforting Dog Toy, Blanket : Pet Toys : Pet Supplies

They have a velcro opening so that you can stuff them with your laundry. I think this is preferable to possibly sending the message 'go ahead and just have at my slippers'. Incidentally... they also make awesome puzzle toys if you put cookies inside them instead of socks!
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