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I have a dachshund who will not actively play with toys. She will, very rarely, pick up a bone or a chew toy (mostly a bone). She has a myriad of toys available to her, ranging from small, fluffy, squeeky toys, to large rubber rings, a coupled stuffed animals, some rubber chew toys shaped like food, ropes for tugging, some kongs, etc. She has some small circular bones available and a long bone. No rawhides, no pig ears, no hooves. 99.9% of the time, she ignores the majority of the toys she has available to her.

She does chase a bone if she's in the right mood, but will never fetch it back; she will either ignore the bone one she arrives, or will pick it up, walk to another location to chew it, and leave the bone there when called to play again. That is the only play activity she seems to interact with; she won't go after a toy if thrown.

When I leave her, I break up a dog treat to fill a dog puzzle, which is always "solved" less than 5 minutes of my departure. I leave the TV on for her when I go out.

She loves to be by my side and pursues any cat or squirrel that enters the yard. She actively patrols our yard for intruders. She likes to lay on her back in the sun. She is very intelligent; she always seems to know exactly what I want her to do. She simply will not play, and I want her to be entertained when I am unable to play with her or when she's unable to go outside.

She does respond well to treats and food, but I don't want to overload her with treats as doxies are prone to getting overweight.

What can I do for her to keep her busy? How can I entice her to be interested in her toys?

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It might be that she's just not interested. She's obviously smart, and does interact with people, but toys simply may not catch her attention. She might just find it boring. Alternatively she may just be picky - our resident canine won't bother with anything non-squeeky.

You might also experiment with varied play - we tend to 'refuse' to give ours a toy, teasing him and making him run around, hiding toys and so on. If a dog doesn't play on her own, and doesn't show any issues related to boredom, I'd suggest just letting it be.

  • I've found a way to annoyingly tease her into interaction, which has progressed her interest further. I have detailed how I perform the teasing process in an answer here: pets.stackexchange.com/questions/2350/… – JoshDM Feb 23 '14 at 15:19
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I wouldn't worry about a lack of interest in retrieving, since most dogs have to be taught how to do this. My dog (Shiba Inu) treats a game of fetch as a way to start a game of keep-away.

Toy Recommendations

My boy bores easily, so most of his toys (flatties, ropes, and Kong rope stuffed animals) are used for either chewing or playing keep-away. There are 2 toys that he enjoys more than any others:

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Yep, a cat toy. It's just a plastic ball trapped in a durable plastic track. I'm not certain who the manufacturer is for the one I have (I received it secondhand), but I found one that looks just like it on Amazon. Mine is exceptionally durable and has taken a lot of abuse without cracking or breaking. Assuming this is a toy your dog would be interested in, all you should need to do is start the ball rolling around the track to show him how it works.

enter image description here

You can get a Chuckit! Erratic Ball just about anywhere that sells Chuckit! toys, though you may need to order online to get it in the small size. Unlike normal balls, these will roll/bounce around unpredictably. My boy has other balls, but this is the one he prefers the most. He taught himself how to throw it so that he can chase it as it wobbles around.

Other things you can try

  • You already have a Kong, try stuffing it with mostly dog food and only a couple treats. Just make sure you subtract the food you put in the Kong from his daily food allowance. Try checking the Kong website for ideas on how to fill it (such as wetting the food so that it expands, making it more difficult to get out)
  • Try hiding some of his normal kibble throughout the house in places where he would be certain to find it (behind a char, under a bed, etc.)
  • Make a window accessible to your dog. I live in an apartment on the ground floor, so my boy is able to sit and watch squirrels running around. This might not be appropriate for all dogs, as they might bark or scratch at the window (my boy doesn't bark at people or dogs that he sees outside)
  • Make him jealous. Toys are always more interesting when they belong to someone else. I've bought toys that my boy found interesting that belonged to other dogs. Guess what? He doesn't play with the ones I buy
  • Regarding the toys, she won't touch them on her own, so I can buy all the toys I want, but if she ignores them, they do no good. I'll try something with the Kong and some peanut butter. I like the idea of hiding kibble, except she's not kibble oriented and we live in an ant-prone area. I don't have a good window except upstairs, but dachshunds shouldn't be climbing stairs unmonitored. I'll see about acquiring used toys, but she never seems to play with the toys of others when we visit their homes. – JoshDM Nov 25 '13 at 18:46
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    If you start playing with the toy first (try keeping your back turned in such a way that he can't see it but knows you have something), does your dog show any interest in it? Also, I used to keep all but a few of my boy's toys in a drawer and switch them up periodically. He loved hearing that drawer slide open because it meant he was getting a different toy to play with. – cimmanon Nov 25 '13 at 19:09
  • She shows no interest, but I may implement the reduced toys policy. – JoshDM Nov 25 '13 at 22:24
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I found this while looking for the same thing with my daxie! I have tried so many different things and the only success I had was to hide a toy for about 6 weeks and when I pulled it out again she was so excited. same with fetch she is very disinterested after a short time. What I have found that drives her mad is using two tennis balls instead of one...she will play that for hours! She also prefers real bones to chew toys but I have found that rawhide dipped in peanut butter is a favourite for her now. She will only chew it if she has somewhere soft to sit though. It's okay I guess it takes time to find out what your pup likes. At first I was panicked she was sick or depressed but I think she's okay now haha. Just picky!

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