How to offer to our dogs to use their brain and their senses to solve a problem that we made for them (find treats in a Spin Top or in a container with sliding drawers, …).
The hidden object game can be part of this category: our dog first uses his nose to find the object and then uses his brain to get it (out of the container or out of a bush).
Let’s constantly renew games for new mental stimulation.
Vidéo: Récupérer des bonbons à deux
|Vidéo: Jeux de débrouillardise à deux|
We can find many different types of containers in stores, and of course we can make them ourselves, which will be cheaper.
Description and evolution
Let’s imagine that we have a large toy which is a plastic paw, with sliding drawers and a swivel drawer.
Vidéo: patte en plastique à tiroirs
Step 1: Let’s choose a quiet room in the house (where our dog feels comfortable), and put the plastic paw on the floor. In full view of our dog, let’s place a treat in one of the drawers. A single treat, in a single drawer that we leave open. In this way our dog becomes familiar with the plastic paw.
Let’s keep in mind that our dog is rewarding himself, since he eats the treat as soon as he finds it. We can not do any faster!
Step 2: In the same room of the house, in full view of our dog, let’s place a treat in a drawer of the plastic paw and close the drawer. We then let our dog figure the drawer out. It’s up to him to test and use his nose or paw to solve the problem.
Only one single parameter changes between two stages of the exercise: either hoe much or how little we close the draw, or wehre we place the treats, or the environment.
Step 3: In the same room of the house, we place a treat in the swivel drawer and close it. We let our dog solve this new problem with the change of opening mechanism.
Step 4: In the same room of the house, in full sight of our dog, let’s place a treat in each of the different drawers of the plastic paw and close all the drawers.
Step 5: In the same room of the house, out of our dog’s sight, let’s put treats in the different drawers of the plastic paw and close all the drawers.
When a new parameter creates too great a difficulty (out of our dog’s sight for example), we can decrease the level of difficulty of one of the other parameters (less drawers, or leave some drawers open).
Step 6: In the same room of the house, out of our dog’s sight, let’s put small pieces of biscuits (less odorous) in the different drawers of the plastic paw and close all the drawers.
Next steps: Let’s start all over again … with new containers (bought or home made).
Working the brain and memory
As long as we change these games regularly, they will be mental stimulation and resourcefulness games. If we offer to our dog to search for treats again and again with the same plastic paw, our dog will simply remember (“how did I solve that?”) and will no longer use his brain and resourcefulness. Let’s constantly renew games for new mental stimulation.
Learning without pressure
These game sessions are necessarily very short (less than 5 minutes and 3 sessions maximum in one day). During each session, our dog will have to use his brain and his nose which requires loads of concentration. If the session is too long or if we do too many sessions on the same day, we risk failure. It is important to stop on a positive note, even if it seems to us that the last game was very easy to solve. Beginners need time to develop their skills as they go. And let’s not forget that learning optimally takes place when the dog is not stressed and therefore not put under pressure.
In the same vein, it is useless to “motivate” our dog by repeating the request (“search” for example). While our dog is focused on the treat search, he mainly uses his eyesight and his nose. Repeating “search”, “search”, “search” distracts him and floods his ears and his brain with useless information. It’s just distraction, not motivation.
You do not need to help him, for example, by showing him where the hidden treat is. The purpose of the game is that our dogs develop their nose skills and confidence, this is not a game of speed or performance. When our dog stops searching, the game is over either temporarily because he just needs a break, or definitely depending on our dog. It is important to respect his learning rhythm.
Let’s also respect his rhythm of recovery: after a busy weekend, our dog needs more rest. The ideal is to offer our dog an easier search game: some treats scattered at home or in the lawn will do the job.
Those who do not cope
If our dog is not interested in the game, it raises the question: does he like the treats we are offering? It’s up to us to offer him treats that live up to his expectations.
If our dog likes the treats but is not interested in this search, it may be because it’s too difficult for him (physically if our dog is old, sick or hurt / emotionally if our dog is not comfortable in the environment for example / if we have skipped steps in the learning process / if the container is challenging or scary). It’s up to us to offer him a game that lives up to his physical and / or emotional abilities.
Some dogs may also accept the game with some containers but not with others: a metal container can be noisy, and therefore scary; a container that is too heavy to flip can be discouraging. It’s up to us to offer them a game that lives up to their physical and / or emotional abilities.
Some dogs do not share their food. It is imperative to offer these dogs the possibility to do treat searches on their own. It’s up to us to offer a game adapted to the social abilities of our dog.
Some dogs will be frustrated if they cannot solve the problem. They may want to get to the treats by force (destroy the plastic paw for example). It’s up to us to offer them a game that lives up to their tenacity and their patience.
Vidéos: Fripouille vole la toupie, la casse et s’invente son propre jeu de recherche de bonbons.
LET’S KEEP IN MIND that :
- We should offer treats that are enjoyed by our dog;
- We should only increase the difficulty, one step at a time
- We should offer a learning environment without pressure;
- Sessions must be short;
- We should offer a game which is adapted to the needs, expectations and abilities of our dog;
- We should offer new games to solve regularly.