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We have a 9 week old puppy who is a rather good puppy. She likes to play (for the little bit she is awake), but only with us. If we are playing tug with her rope or rolling one of her balls. However, as soon as we stop playing along, she also stops playing. At what age will she learn that she can continue to play with her toys without our input?

I set up a camera to peek in on her during the day while I'm at work and she is in her crate. Every morning/night we put her a tennis ball, her rope, a kong toy, and a rubber bone into her crate, but she doesn't touch them all day. Or at least never when I open the video stream. She is either sleeping (fine) or flipping out howling/crying (probably not ideal). We only picked her up on Saturday, so she is likely still getting used to being in the crate for ~5 hours straight during the day before I get home during lunch for a quick walk (to take out some of that energy), but I feel like she'd be more comfortable if she would play with her toys while alone during the day.

Is there anyway to help her to play alone?
 

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short answer is - she won't (learn to play by herself).

Dogs don't generally amuse themselves and if they get bored, they'll amuse themselves with things like chewing on table legs or shredding couch cushions.

They're 'pack' animals and you and your family are her pack.

Just like children, they demand attention.

Be glad you have a puppy that looks to you. She'll be easier to train if you use that desire for attention and shape it into behaviors you approve of.
 

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....but I feel like she'd be more comfortable if she would play with her toys while alone during the day.

Is there anyway to help her to play alone?
if there was a step by step way to this effectively it would be called something like - the how to destroy all basis for future training method.

not what most people here are looking for imo.
 

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Jeremy sounds like you've never had a dog before? First puppy?

Dogs are not humans. There is an assumption that what you consider toys would also be a toy object for a dog. That's a reasonable assumption to make with children but not with puppies.

Everything a puppy does is essentially what nature intended for a wolf cub to need to practice to maximize its chances of survival in the wild in the future. Domestication also added the element of puppies needing to learn to bond with humans as a survival skill. A puppy does nothing for its survival skills by playing by herself with what humans consider as toy objects.

I will directly quote a response by onyx girl in another concurrent thread: "Have you tried a flirtpole with a rag or toy at the end to play/wear him out? A bit of tug, let him carry it while it's 'dead' and then start the game over. Games like that really get out the need to bite and helps the pups mental stimulation. Tug is a great outlet! But needs to stop when teething begins.

When puppies are over-tired, they act out as well, so time out in a crate may be the answer. I would use all of his meals as training time(treats that come from your hand while you ask for behaviors/ or lure)
You could also use his meals for tracking, which will work his brain some. When the brain is exercised, the puppy is a bit more balanced."

Notice how everything she talks about is directly related to a wolf cub and puppy developing their chances of future survival.
 

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I think I get what you mean - you'd feel better leaving her alone if it looked like she was having fun! I think they really pretty much just wait for us to show up, which as other posters have noted, is an awesome dog trait! But, she might play more with food related toys, like if you left her with her breakfast stuffed in the kong and she had to work at getting at it. My pup loved the Kong Wobbler, too.
 

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I was just going to chime in with the treat dispensing toy option as well, but I see I was beat to it! I used to feed his dinner in the wobbler to give me a few minutes of time to myself.
 

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Third 'yes' on the treat ball/dispensing toy! Very few dogs will toss their own ball. Think more... digging holes in the yard, couch cushions, or linoleum. They'll invent their own games, and very few of them are fun to come home to on a regular basis.

Count yourself lucky that you have a play-motivated dog! Easy to grab their attention and easy to reward when you've elicited the behavior you're looking for.
 

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short answer is - she won't (learn to play by herself).

Dogs don't generally amuse themselves and if they get bored, they'll amuse themselves with things like chewing on table legs or shredding couch cushions.

They're 'pack' animals and you and your family are her pack.

Just like children, they demand attention.

Be glad you have a puppy that looks to you. She'll be easier to train if you use that desire for attention and shape it into behaviors you approve of.
I have had several dogs that play with their toys by themselves, a Chi-pin mix would drop her ball off the couch chase it, and repeat. My Yorkie has a favorite toy that she tosses in the air, rolls with it, growls, and generally has a good time. My GSD loves her jolly ball, and soccer ball. She runs the yard swinging them. She has a smaller ball that she bites as she releases it, to make it bounce so she can catch it again.
However your puppy is very young, the treat dispensing are a great idea for your little one. Just wanted to let you know that my dogs do entertain themselves sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the replies everyone.

Ocean: Correct, more or less, this is my first puppy, as the care giver. I grew up with a black lab that was my age, then had a few puppies over my childhood, which my parents mainly raised. This is a new experience for me and I'd like to make it as enjoyable for as possible for my wife, myself, and of course for our puppy.

kjdreyer, jessac, marbury, ksotto333: Thanks for the tip on the food treat. I'll try adding a few pieces of kibble in her Kong toy and see how she handles it.
 

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the roller treat dispensing toys are great. To be honest my GSD still doesn't really play with herself and she is three. Still follows me everywhere and is bored when I'm not playing with her. GSDs crave interaction with you. Some do though go out and play on their own, shepherds are a bit more people focused typically.
 

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My dog will play by himself with a ball, but only of we are home.
He will also bring th e ball, let it bounce off the arm of my chair or my knee, and then chase it.
But he is over 1 year old, and when he was a puppy, the toys he had in his expen were things such as a squeaky snake or a Bobalot.
 

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My dog will play by himself with a ball, but only of we are home.
He will also bring th e ball, let it bounce off the arm of my chair or my knee, and then chase it.
But he is over 1 year old, and when he was a puppy, the toys he had in his expen were things such as a squeaky snake or a Bobalot.
mine does the same, although one of her more annoying game is sticking the ball under the furniture and barking till I come and get it back from her. I refuse to be Pavloved by my dog so the ball is in outdoor toy now :D
 

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mine does the same, although one of her more annoying game is sticking the ball under the furniture and barking till I come and get it back from her. I refuse to be Pavloved by my dog so the ball is in outdoor toy now :D
Bigger ball needed :D
 

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I'm pretty sure the tennis ball sized one we have is an orbee, the issue with the bigger ones is that she is able to create a weakness and tear it up easier.
 
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