Why it is Not a Good Practice To Leave Your Toys With Your Dog?
Having come from a couple of decades plus of training detection dogs that are trained mostly on all play and tug motivation, it is easy to tell you that there are several reasons why we don’t leave our toys with our dogs. We call the things that our dogs love the most whether it be food or balls, kongs, squeeky’s, fluffy’s, frisbee’s, rope or any type of toy these would be known as their primary motivator. Many a great detection dog has had an emergency trip of to the vet to try to deal with an ingested toy or especially parts of said toys. Since my earliest foray into detection dogs all my teachers had on many occasions mentioned motivator or part motivator ingestion and knowing people whom had lost great dogs. I myself can tell you to get great detection dog candidates is like winning the lottery 1st prize multiple times. Great retrieving and detection dogs are not easy to come by that is why we now have our breeding programs for Labradors for detection and search/rescue or trialing & totally separate lines for guide, hearing and assistance dogs.
We also have Springer Spaniel lines for detection as it is far easier to breed your own than to try and acquire from other sources. For decades we used to troll the pounds and shelters but now raise our own as specialised bred, raised and trained dogs are far less likely to require remedial work to be successful. We still will take exceptional dogs from these sources, but naturally these types of very specialist candidates don’t happen often. We got a beaut little dog we named Mel from the AWL and he was a fireball and had unbelievable natural drives for retrieve, play and tug of war and unfortunately also a huge possession of his motivator as the work built his desire it also heightened this possession. He would on a few occasions swallow our toy to keep possession of it and that would require an emergency trip to our local vet whom was luckily only minutes away to induce him to vomit up the toy before it became a severe life threat needing an operation. I had to make the decision to not continue him in the detection dog program as he got more possessive for his own ongoing welfare we found him a great home and taught them games that would not promote this problem. So as you can now understand if you leave toys with some dogs it is an ingestion risk and you truly have less than 30 minutes to identify ingestion has occurred and get them to the vet to induce vomiting or it could require an operation or worse if not promptly identified and dealt with it could cause death.
Also, if you want to have your dog love the toy and remain at the higher levels of motivation with that toy then I would like you to ask yourself the following….. If my absolute favourite food was on offer only on special occasions such as say your birthday or Christmas Day would this make you desire the favourite even more and would just the sight or mention of it out of season make you start to lament about the taste and smell and maybe Even go as far as to salivate. Now ask yourself if this same favourite was on constant offer and available all the time or even pushed on you in greater amounts than you desire would it now truly remain your favourite and primary and would you constantly try to gain this favourite and would it be special. I am sure you see my point that to have things on tap and on demand does not build desire for that thing. On the other hand, if it is rare and not easily acquired and is your primary interest to have random and less often availability makes this item more valuable. I am not saying to not have forms of environmental enrichment for your dog, rather don’t expect an available primary motivator to hold its statis or value if it is always present and available for your dog. If it does present as the primary motivator even when available all the time and is left with the dog this would have me feeling a little worried that the dog could be one of the dogs probable to chew and ingest parts of this highly prized motivator. Of course, I have seen hundreds of highly possessive dogs whom have never developed to chewing and ingesting but if I did not share this knowledge would you have to have a nasty situation that could be avoided with just a little help and experience. To be fore warned is to be fore armed!
Good L U C K = Labour Under Correct Knowledge