One of my favorite things about having dogs is playing and interacting with them. I won’t lie – they have two toy bins brimming with stuffed squirrels, tennis balls and random toy parts that they’ve deconstructed (I’m currently looking at a long, single “spider” leg, which is hanging out of one of their toy bins).

But over the years I’ve discovered you don’t have to be passive during playtime – I like to spice it up to get my dogs excited about play. Here are some simple methods that are very effective for my dog pack.

Punt the Toy

Simple as it sounds. I take a toy, ask the dogs to stay, and punt it as if I’m on the special teams unit for the Philadelphia Eagles. You’d be surprised at just how much your dog’s eyes will light up when you punt the toy! Just for my own fun, I also throw out some football talk during the play session. Hopefully no one is eavesdropping.

Spike the Toy

Similar to punting, you can also spike it like a volleyball player. Again, this gets the dogs really excited. I think it’s something about seeing the toy being tossed and then forcefully swatted down that gets them going.

Cover the Toy With a Smell

This is a trick I learned from some zookeepers. Many animals (including dogs) are very scent driven. One smell (and taste) that my dogs love is seaweed. You could try sprinkling some seaweed powder on one of your dog’s toys and see what happens. They may just go wild!

Fill An Old Toy With a New Squeaker

Did you know that when your dog dissects that stuffed rabbit’s squeaker that it isn’t necessarily the end? That’s right – you can actually buy more squeakers and refill the toy! Some toys are made especially for this and they have easy-seal openings. On regular toys – if the hole they’ve constructed is big enough to stuff a squeaker but small enough that it won’t just fall out – you can just put it in. Or, you can get fancy and sew it back together. This brings new life to old (and sometimes favorite) toys.