After the last few attempts, I decided to try something different with the puzzle box. I did not film this, however. What I did was have a training session with treats in my hand and the puzzle box on the floor. It has become clear to me that the puzzle is not very reinforcing and so Mattie, doesn’t want to put any more effort into it. I have to make it interesting again.
All I did was give her a “good” and a treat every time she just looked at the puzzle box. I’m hoping to make it a more positive item again.
This evening, I decided to up it a bit and I put a much larger and desirable treat into the puzzle. I’m kicking myself because earlier I cooked some chicken breast (a favorite of Mattie’s) and didn’t think to put that into the puzzle box. Oh I am failing in this thinking thing but acing hindsight!
So, immediately she’s excited but doesn’t know quite what to do. She tries to offer me a “speak” behavior so I tap the puzzle to get her attention. I am making more of an effort to praise her as well. When that doesn’t work, I try to help her out a bit by sticking the treat out a little bit. This doesn’t entice her right away, so I bring her attention to it. As she tries to go for it, she pushes it back inside the puzzle. Naturally, I help her out by lifting the flap so she can just go for it. Two things become very clear. 1) It is very hard for her to get treats out of the puzzle. 2) She seems to be a little jumpy and frightened by the puzzle box every time it moves and makes a noise. The difficulty of getting a treat out could be caused by one of two things, either it is a physical problem (like she’s a small dog and this toy was built for larger ones) or, mentally she is being cautious so that is making it more difficult.
Regardless, there is work to be done with this puzzle box. It’s not mentally stimulating to her on its own. She has lost the interest to figure it out since it is not rewarding enough when she tries.
Come back for future updates!
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