Anyone who has followed Rugby’s Facebook page or this blog for long, knows that Rugby really enjoys playing with puzzles. They are a wonderful way to challenge him mentally, and it also gives him a little problem to solve, which he really loves!
Dogs on their own in the streets spend their days problem solving: finding food, water and shelter every day. Our pets have absolutely everything provided for them, which leaves them nothing creative to do. It gives them no problem to solve in their day to day. No wonder they make mischief in any form that they can find it!
While I was driving one day, I thought about what new fun activity I could do with Rugby. He loves to dig in his blankies, so I thought of how much fun it might be to hide treats in his fluffed up blankies, and let him go to town digging and nosing around to discover all of the goodies that were hidden in all of the folds.
I started out with Rugby on his placemat, and I hid treats in a small towel, tucking them here and there among the folds of the towel. I always let him watch me when I start a new game, so that he understands what to do. I started with a small towel, and made sure that it was light colored so that Rugby could have an easier time seeing and finding the treats. I also didn’t hide too many treats, to overwhelm him with work.
Then I gave Rugby a release so that he could start working. He already knows the phrase “Find the Cookie” from a previous game that I taught him, (see my previous post http://rugbyjames.com/2015/07/10/710-friday-fun-playing-games/). We’ve played “Find the Cookie” a lot at my house, and it’s a game Rugby just loves! So hunting for the treats hidden in a towel was an easy extension of that game.
Here’s a video of our first attempt. I didn’t think that he had gotten all of the treats out of the towel when he kept walking away, but when I picked the towel up and shook it, no treats fell out! No wonder he walked away! He knew he had found them all!!
Next, I tried making it harder by hiding the treats in a big, dark colored blankie of Rugby’s. Not only were there more places to hide treats for him, but there also more folds, so smelling them was harder. I chose a dark color, because the treats would blend into the blankie, and Rugby would really have to work his nose and eyes to spy the hidden treasures. Here’s the video of our second attempt:
When working puzzles of any kind, initially Rugby often walks away to clear his thinking a bit, but he comes back…sometimes with a little encouragement, to keep working. I used standard dog food kibble in both of these trials. It honestly would probably be more fun and easier if I use a stinky bait, like his very favorite Salmon treat. I think he would probably stay engaged better, and want to work harder to find his treats!
I think I’ve found a big hit at my house! This is a game that is easy to transport to a new place or work on the patio or house for rainy days. To be honest, I would recommend that you carefully supervise your dog in play with this game! If he gets too frustrated, he may decide to chew the blanket to get to the treats! And, if you have a fabric chewer of bedding at your house, you might want to skip this game altogether! If the bedding smells like treats, it’s an open invitation to your dog to chew on it! However, if you use a special blankie or towel only for this game and take it away afterwards, you might be able to give it a successful try!
Rugby loves play of any kind, and thinking games are among his very favorites! Even playing small games like this make Rugby so happy and satisfied. His little eyes just shine after we’ve had some fun play together, and it’s really great quality time with my best friend!