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The Power of Toy Rotation for Your Dog

Jun 17, 2023 | Dog Mom Lifestyles

Have you ever had a friend whose house seems to change a little every time you visit? Like furniture being rearranged, new artwork on the wall or perhaps they repainted some walls in their house.

It gives the place a new feel. You suddenly notice how big the room is or how bright and spacious their home is. There are so many cool details that go unnoticed when things stay the same.

Psychology calls this tendency to tune out routine stuff, “habituation.” When we see, hear, or smell the same thing day in, day out, it fades into the background. We simply stop noticing it. Like your fridge making strange noises or a fan running in your room. That’s how habituation works. Here’s a exciting article about habituation if you’d like to learn more.

Habituation has its good side. When we aren’t being distracted by every little routine thing, we can focus on what’s important. But if nothing new EVER happens and we’re habituated to most everything around us, it can lead to a big case of BOREDOM – for us AND and our dogs.

So, consider THIS ONE SIMPLE BUT EXCITING ACTION to bring more enrichment to you and your pet’s life—TOY ROTATION!

dog with large stick

What is “rotation” and how do I know my pet will like it?

Rotation is a way of strategically changing things in your pet’s environment like pet toys or your home setup to keep their brains happily busy! Adding new pet-safe decor, rearranging your furniture, or rotating toys on a schedule helps keep things fresh, exciting and interesting for your pup.

You’ll keep your dog mentally stimulated by helping them bust through habituation, using rotation. A toy becomes new again when they haven’t seen or played with it in a while. Your home becomes an exciting new place to explore when the layout has changed a bit. That particular carpet that was hidden before under the couch is now a new place for them to sniff.

How to rotate your pet’s toys

Rotating your dog’s toys is an easy way to keep life things fun for them to explore.

Cassi says “I love rotating toys. By rotating toys, you keep the toys from becoming old and boring. Everytime you bring out that old toy after a month of being in the closet, it can be like a brand new toy for your dog, cat or other pet. Novelty keeps things fun, enriching and interesting.”]

  • Rotate toys weekly if you can. If you have a big bin of toys, this should be pretty easy! Put the bin away in a closet and grab a few out. If a toy is constantly ignored on every trip to the play pile, maybe it’s time for it to go.

  • Leave the favorites out. If your pet has a favorite comfort toy they carry about or sleep with, you should probably leave it out for them all the time.

  • Make sure a variety of toys with different uses are available. Toys that roll, can be carried, tugged, chased, or that provide comfort.

  • Some toys should be interactive, so your pet gets their very special time with YOU. By playing fetch with your dog or helping your cat play chase and leap with a wand toy, your pet can expend energy and get valuable socialization time, too.

    Adding different types of treats into the same toy is one way to make it have a new life for the pet,” Cassi says. You can also switch it up by having your dog play with the toy in a different room, backyard or in a new location. Cassi comments that these types of changes mix up the way your pet experiences the toy, which can keep it stimulating.

    I find rotating my dogs toys each week, gives them something to get excited about but also reminds them of some of the old toys they have forgotten about.

    Toy rotation keeps everything fresh and fun, but other kinds of rotation might be a little too much for some pets.

    dog with ball in his mouth

    Consider this before bigger rotations

    Like most things, there are best practices to follow. Before hitting snooze on your pet’s consistency, consider the following:

    • Remember that some pets might get anxious over too much sudden change. Removing too many toys at once or changing their bed around from what they are used could also be too much for them and create anxiety. So just be mindful of those things and do things in steps so they don’t get overwhelmed.

    • Changes in your home could disrupt your pet’s daily routine. Before you redo the kitchen, or throw out your dog’s favorite toy, swap out their old bed with a new one think a bit about how it will impact your dog’s life.

    The effects of changing furniture around the house on a pet will really vary from pet to pet,” says Cassi Jo Perez who is certified trainer through Victoria Stilwell Academy (VSA-CDT) and Karen Pryor Academy (KPA-CTP), owner of Midtown Mutts and a founding trainer at The Freak’n Awesome Dog Project. “Some dogs will be completely un-phased by the change in the house, and others might need some time to adjust to the change.” She adds, “If the dog used to be allowed on the couch, but isn’t now that we’ve gotten a new one, it can be difficult for a dog to learn the rules of the new arrangement. So extra care should be taken to help the dog adjust to the new rules.”

    I know that rotation works for my dog, Lucy. It allows for her to find excitement in things that are new to her even though they might be old. Saves from having to always buy new things but rather just eliminating old toys to bring out previous ones.

    Cassi notes that, “In general puppies can be pretty adaptable little critters. Moving furniture around when they are young may also help socialize them to changes in the environment and make it easier for them to accept change as they age.”

    And KEEP that fun in rotation

    Rotation of toys and changing up your pet’s environment should add interest and excitement to your pet’s life, so, to sum up:

    • Add new fun new elements to your pet’s life, but when making big changes, ensure some familiarity remains.

    • Don’t rotate your dog’s favorite toy, as they may draw comfort from it.

    • Avoid changes that unnecessarily disrupt your pet’s daily routine like changing food without a gradual introduction, or making a lot of big changes all at once.

    If you’re looking for new ways to stimulate your dog and want to experience a monthly ritual with them each month, take a peek at our monthly self care dog mom ritual box specifically designed for you and your pup to rejuvenate, relax and de-stress.

    So…do you rotate?

    Can you rotate?

    Tell me how your pet reacts to new toys or a new activity!

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