The dog trainer is in to answer your questions. Alexandra Macias, CPDT-KA owner and operator of the Long Beach-based Alex Macias dog training, will be sitting down and answering readers' pet-related questions.
My dog Gretchen loves stuffed toys, but she tears them apart and treats them like prey. Can she still have toys that look real, or will this encourage her prey drive, and tell her it is okay to dismember small animals?
Letting Gretchen play/tear apart stuffed toys will not increase her prey drive at all, even if the toy looks very realistic. Playing with stuffed toys can give dogs an outlet for their "prey drive," which can help burn some mental and physical energy. The stuffed toys may look very similar to the real thing, but do not smell or act like real animals, so Gretchen should understand that they are simply toys.
It’s great to let Gretchen play with toys of her own, and the more she has, the better! The more options you give her to play with, the less likely she is to go after your stuff. Having options keeps her mind occupied, so she’s less likely to get bored. Boredom in dogs can be problematic, because when dogs are bored, they are more likely to get into items that are off limits. Playing with toys is extremely important for Gretchen’s mental health, so keep the good times going! WOOF!
- Alex Macias, CPDT-KA
Alexandra (Alex) Macias, CPDT-KA, has been a certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist since 2008, and is the owner of Alex Macias Dog training, a Long Beach-based dog training company. To ask Alexandra questions for a future article, leave them in the comments below, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.