Select a toy to use as a ‘special’ toy. The dog will only ever play with this toy while he is playing with you. At the end of the game the special toy should be put away and never and left for the dog to play with alone or with other pets in the household.
Use the same toy to begin with. Extra toys can be made important in the same manner, if desired, in the future.
The toy should be one which you and the dog can play with together, can be seen by the dog at a distance, and if necessary can be filled with tasty treats or part of his daily diet. A ‘Kong on a rope’ or ball on rope fit this criteria perfectly.
Stuff the toy with something tasty, then have an exciting game by throwing the toy between yourself and a friend. When your dog starts to show an interest in your game, put the toy away and end the game. A while later repeat this again. Each time the toy comes out your dog should become more interested in it.
When you have your dog’s full attention on the toy, have a game with your dog and the toy.
Games need to be short and exciting for your dog.
Ensure that your dog is still enjoying the game when you put the toy away.
Finishing the game while your dog is enjoying it will make the dog keener to play next time the toy is brought out. This will make him more responsive and happy to comply with what you require from him.
Now you have an ‘important’ toy that can be used for a variety of situations. Use it when you recall your dog by rewarding him with an exciting game. Remember to keep hold of the rope to prevent him from taking the toy and running off with it. Encourage calm, quiet behaviour by sitting with your foot on the rope and allowing him to try to get the food out of the toy. Hide the toy while walking on the lead and produce it for a quick game when he’s in a nice position by your side.