See what I did there? Clever, huh. Well probably not as clever as your dog is! Dogs are very intelligent animals and their brains require exercise. Bored dogs often find their own source of entertainment and there is a good chance it’s not going to be mom or dad approved. Providing your dog with mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise and it doesn’t have to be complicated. One of my favorite ways to provide enrichment is through dog games. So let me introduce you to the “Muffin Tin Game”.
What you need:
- Small Treat rewards (kibble works great too)
- 6-12 Cup Metal Muffin Tin
- 6-12 Medium Sized Balls (tennis balls, racquetballs, etc.)
Set up is quick and easy for this game. With the empty muffin tin in front of you, place 1-2 treats in each muffin tin cup and then place a ball on top. The balls should fit down inside the cups so they cannot just be pushed off the top. After the muffin tin has been completely filled with treats your dog will take it from here. Place the muffin tin on the floor (carpeted areas make it less likely to slide around) and encourage your dog to interact. Some dogs will be very confused at first and may need a little extra help getting started. You can lift up one of the balls to show them the treats underneath so they know what they are working for. At this point you may see them use their paws or their mouth to try and move the balls. This part of the game is my favorite! Watching a dog solve the problem at hand is entertaining, sometimes surprising and always rewarding. When they complete the challenge just fill it up and start again.
- Always supervise your dog while playing this game especially with tennis balls or other types they can destroy.
- Be more generous with the treats the first time, this will make the scent easier to detect and encourage your dog to continue the game.
- Once your dog masters this game try placing treats under just a few balls and see if this changes their behavior. Do they still remove all the balls or only those that they detect the treat scent underneath?