I am a huge advocate of food puzzles for dogs. I used various kinds on all of my fosters and always recommend them to customers who inquire about how to keep their hyperactive dogs busy.
But then there was Rufus. For a very long time, he just didn’t get it.
I don’t think it came from a place of stupidity or lameness, I just think he’s a little unsure about pushing stuff around with his own body, for fear of messing something up. Case in point: the dude still won’t go through a doorway until the door is open enough for him squeeze in without having to push it open himself. He will sit there a whine, even when he can TOTALLY see me calling him from the other side. Such a wimp.
At the beginning, we tried Kongs. He absolutely loves licking frozen peanut butter, pumpkin or yogurt out of them, but if you put any type of treat or kibble in there, he just gives up. And the Kong Wobbler? Completely out of the question.
Then a few months ago, I received this little toy in a Barkbox:
Meet the Monster Ball. While he had no interest in it at first, I thought I’d try putting a little bit of kibble in it and see his reaction. For some reason, he was SUPER into it right away. He was rolling it around, nosing it and getting rewarded handsomely in the process. I think the combination of the toy’s smaller size as well as the fact that it’s not super difficult made for a pretty fun game. Now he gets about half his meal this way every evening and has a blast…except when it rolls under the coffee table 100 times. That’s less fun for me, really.
In all honesty, I think the more I have trained him and worked his brain, the more confident he has become with new obstacles he’s presented with. It’s been a slow process, but completely worth it. He now has two other treat dispensing toys I use on a regular basis and it brings me so much joy to see him all puppy-like and curious whenever I give him something new.
We may still be a very long way from conquering the Wobbler, but I’m confident my guy can do it!