Dogs used to fetch a stick or retrieve a ball. Some could even catch a frisbee. Well actually they still do but then along came the new thinking toys. Toys that will produce a treat with just a little interaction from a dog. First were simply made dispensers that easily tumbled out the treats. Then they became more refined requiring a bit more work. Until finally there are intricate puzzles requiring the dog to lift, push, and turn pieces to get to the various treats.
Kirby has joined this academic drive to educate dogs. He has three thinking toys so far. The Busy Buddy Twist n Treat which he has down pat. He starts whimpering in anticipation when he sees us filling it with treats. The Busy Buddy Tug-o-Jug which he pretty much refuses to attempt. So far he will bring the toy to one of us and whimper wait for us to make the treats fall out but we'll keep trying. And now the Dog Games Treat Wheel Dog Toy Puzzle. This toy is sold by Kyjen for only $15.00
As you can see in the picture on the left this toy has a top with four holes which revolves over eight compartments.
I start by placing the toy on the floor and removing the cups. I then make him sit and watch as I place treats in each compartment. Kirby's reaction would imply that this could be considered cruel and inhumane treatment!
Next I place the cups in the holes. He must remove each cup to get the treat under it. He must remove all four cups in order to rotate the top piece to get the treats hidden in the other four compartments.
He can't get his mouth around the top of the cup so he has difficulty removing them. He will need to learn to use his paws and nose to manipulate them but for now we are placing the cups in the holes upside down. Later I'll start turning one cup at a time right-side up until eventually all four cups are right-side up.
I have to admit we have as much fun watching him as he has learning playing with this toy.
Here's a video showing Kirby with his "thinking cap" on! We do have a video of him trying with the cups in the proper way but who has twenty minutes to watch? Not to mention the whimpering involved.
I would love to hear your dog's experience with these new toys. Any advice on which one to get next?
UPDATE: It has been almost a month and I am so happy to report that Kirby can now remove the cups placed in the right way. He kept trying to lift them out with his mouth but they seem be too slippery for him to get a good grasp. He then figured out how to manipulate the cups with his paw. I haven't timed him but he's pretty quick. Every now and then I fill it up with treats without him knowing and set it on the floor in the living room to let him discover it on his own. He gets busy the second he notices it!