Recently, I was in the states. I always find this a great opportunity to find cool stuff, especially for my animals. If you follow my ferret’s Tumblr, you’ll see some great videos of him playing with his new stuff. This post however, is about my dog Mattie, and introducing her to some new behavioral enrichment.
Mattie has a lot of toys. She is not a destructive dog, so all the toys we have bought her are still around today (unless the ferret snagged them and hid them underneath the kitchen counters, never to be seen again). She’s not a ball chaser or a frisbee catcher. Her toys of choice are stuffed animals with squeakers inside. The more squeakers, the better.
So, while in the states, I decided to get her something a little different. I bought her a toy that would make her think. I came home with a puzzle box.
The object is to fill the puzzle’s slots with treats and let the dog figure out how to get the treats out. This particular puzzle has 8 circular slots for treats and 4 doors that it has to learn to lift. The dog then has to learn that the puzzle can spin, revealing more treats.
Just yesterday, I decided to see how Mattie would react. Here is a video of her introduction to the “paw flapper”.
So, let’s talk about what happens in the video. Mattie immediately starts sniffing at it. My first mistake was being too into taking a video and not being reinforcing for my dog. I should have spoken up. I should have praised her. After she investigates the puzzle, she sits down, looking for me to do something. Mattie thinks this is a training session. She is looking to me to ask her to do something so that I will give her whatever is inside that puzzle. She is essentially being good, so that I will give her the treats. I try to encourage her and again she approaches the puzzle and I am so severely kicking myself right now for not reinforcing her. She spent a lot of time sniffing that yellow flap and I did and said NOTHING! DOH! Which of course results with her sitting next to me, trying to get guidance from me. So, I once more try to encourage her, by tapping on the puzzle. This results with her just looking at me and laying down. She has given up.
Come back for the 2nd installment of Mattie learning the puzzle.