April 10, 2011

Dog Puzzles?

Isabella is a smart dog. Really smart. Leading me to the decision that I would devote additional time to her. (Duke was smart in his own way, over time I taught him to put away his toys and to leave whatever one he was carrying by the back door when he went out. He always had a toy.) 
With Isabella, I wanted to go beyond the usual things we (hopefully) teach our dogs. At nine weeks old, she was playing fetch and sitting on command. Teaching her things proved to be an easy task. So we moved on from sit, to shake, then lay down. Also, just for fun, I started incorporating hand signals for those commands. To my surprise, she picked them up. Which proved to be a wonderful investment when I lost my voice at her 3 month mark. 

When I started looking for more things to teach her, I came across dog puzzles and I was instantly curious. I checked out different models and watched videos of dogs played with them. I decided to buy a cheap, easier puzzle and see how she did with a different kind of challenge.
I picked up this one, from Amazon for around $15, but as you can see it's been marked down even further.
Here we have Isabella getting to know her new puzzle. I used aromatic treats at first, to encourage her. We just use cheerios now that she has the procedure down.

Although it works wonderfully as a starter puzzle, particularly for the price, she had it totally figured out within 20 minutes. It was not what I would consider super challenging.
She seemed to have issues with the cups located in the "palm" section of the paw. Their shape, texture, and placement made it difficult for her to get anywhere with them. It seemed ridiculously difficult to "slide" them up (I tried with 1 finger, I can only imagine a wet nose.) and she was unable to get her teeth around them due to the aforementioned placement of the cups. (Also, my particular one came missing some of the "no slip" things on the bottom, so the toy did in fact slide around!)

Our primary complaint with this puzzle are those little yellow cups. They are flimsy and could be easily cracked into pieces with very minimal effort for a decent sized dog.
DEFINITELY do not leave your dog alone with the toy. (This should go without saying..but...)

Would I recommend the toy? Maybe. It's ideal for medium sized dogs that aren't too smart for their own good. If your dog can unscrew things, open doors, drawers, etc..then you may want to go for a more challenging toy. Isabella can do many of those things so it's likely our next puzzle purchase will be a more difficult one, preferably in wood. In any case, here are a couple more photos.

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