How many times have you walked through the pet food aisle, stopping to glance at the odd-shaped dog puzzles, wondering “could my dog figure this out and would she enjoy this toy?”. Wagbrag recently decided to put one to the test. There are many to choose from — some have only a few compartments, while others have many within which to hide a treat. The dog must use her nose to uncover which compartment contains the treat, then figure out how to retrieve it by manipulating the puzzle.
You can find these puzzles in most pet food retail chains, typically for less than $20. We tested the Treat Triad puzzle game made by Kyjen, with a couple of our dogs.
Here were a few observations on how the dogs used the puzzle:
- Dogs with an independent and curious personality, and perhaps even with a little naughty streak, may pick up on the game more quickly. They are more likely to paw at the toy and investigate.
- For larger dogs, don’t be surprised if they actually pick the game up in their mouth and try to run away with it or flip the game over. During one of our demonstrations, our Labrador flipped the game over and the treat fell out (we praised him, because as long as the dog gets the treat out, you want to encourage their interest in the game).
- Dogs may bite at it too. Unfortunately, there were a few times when they actually popped the lid off from the hinge. But you can snap the lid back into place easily.
- This particular puzzle toy allowed for you to tighten the spin cap, thus making it more difficult for the dog to retrieve the treat. Start on the easiest level and let your dog get the hang of the task before adjusting the difficulty level. In the case with this toy, we noticed if you tighten the spin cap too much and made it too difficult, the dog would get frustrated and lose interest.
- Some dogs pick up on the game faster than others. If your dog does not poke her nose, paw or bite at the game immediately, don’t get frustrated. We usually train our dogs not to “break into” the cookie jar, so this may be their way of saying “see, I can behave and be good”. Use some patience, find some yummy smelly treats and make it a fun game.
Finally, don’t expect this toy to babysit your pet. It won’t provide hours of entertainment – unless you are constantly re-hiding treats. But it is fun to watch your pet be intrigued and challenged. You’ll be as excited as they are when they learn how the puzzle works and they retrieve their well-deserved treat.