Stay on target
If you’re wondering why your pup is suddenly showing a lot less interest in his favorite stuffed animal all of a sudden, don’t worry. It’s not because he’s sick, or even upset. It could be that he’s just bored. Weirdly enough, there’s a scientific explanation for all of it.
Researchers have been hard at work looking into it, in fact, and have discovered that many dogs actually have a preference for new things or novelty. It’s called neophilia.
Neophilia explains why your dog tends to get so excited when presented with a new toy he hasn’t seen before and starts snubbing the old collection. It all stems from a study back in 2008 where researchers from the University of Giessen in Germany and the University of Lincoln in the U.K. played with 17 dogs with two different toys. After playing with each dog with both toys, the dogs were shown a lineup of three different toys apiece: the two they had seen before and a brand new one. The dogs went straight for the new toy in a whopping 38 out of 50 toys, and the study’s results were published in the scientific journal Animal Cognition.
A similar study at the University of Bristol Anthrozoology Institute and the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition yielded results that mirrored the earlier studies. This one was conducted with 16 adult Labrador Retrievers who were each given a special toy for 30 seconds. This was repeated several times until the dogs clearly seemed bored with the toys. The dogs ended up losing interest in the toys after five 30-second periods of being given the toy.
Essentially, this reinforces the idea that dogs simply get bored and are attracted to newness and unfamiliar territory. It also turned out that as a result of the surveys we could draw conclusions about what kinds of toys the dogs preferred, such as those that taste like food, the ones that you can tear apart. That’s great news for you if you like cleaning up torn-apart toys all over your floor.
It doesn’t sound exactly like rocket science, and we could all pretty much surmise this was the case, but if your dog is showing signs of boredom with his toys you can try to rotate them out, play with the dog in different ways with the toy, or even change the way they smell. Most importantly, make sure your dog remains engaged. That’s a lot more fun, anyway than watching him ignore his favorite toy.