Equipment: MuffinTin, Tennis Balls, Treats
Skill Level: Easy
This game is very popular and often recommended by Dog trainers such as Tip Top Dog School, and best of all, it is cheap and easy to do
I am sure you know there are so many games you can play to entertain your dog in the home, often using the simplest of props. The lazy but expensive way is to go to a pet supermarket and buy one or two ready-made entertainment pieces. These will do the job alright, but you could be seriously out of pocket for some of them. Apart from that obvious point, you will lose out on the opportunity for a bit of fun making something, not to mention the extreme dose of self-satisfaction that will wash all over you when you create something that works.
Your dog will appreciate the opportunity to play with something different, and you will have a big smile on your face watching him trying to figure out your fiendish but ingenious invention. You can make it easy or hard – it’s up to you and your imagination.
Setting up the Muffin Tin game
A standard, shop-bought muffin tin will probably come with 12 equally sized indentations. Each little muffin space is about the right size for a tennis ball. The best way to do this is to engage your dog’s attention immediately. Getting down on the floor with him would be a perfect start. He will know immediately that playtime is about to start – it is just a case of which game we will play today! It’s It’s, of course, to let him see what you are doing while at the same time keeping him sitting there quietly until you are finished. He might be reluctant at first – it depends on how well he responds to “Sit!”
Place under each muffin slot a small treat. This needs to be very small and flat, preferably, with a strong enough scent that he will pick up immediately. It could be meat, something sweet, or even strong-smelling cheese (provided your dog likes cheese, of course). On top of each treat goes a ball. Do this deliberately, talking to him constantly. You can even explain what you are doing, just in case he understands you perfectly! Then the game starts.
He will use a paw or nose to nudge a ball out of the way, thus revealing something tasty. He should soon catch on that there will be something similar under each one – it’s just’s case of shifting the ball. It would be interesting to see how he does it. One by one, or knocking them all out of their slots with one sweep of the paw, he will get something out of the exercise. You could play this a couple of times; the more you play, the more his tail will wag during the game’s up and execution.
I think you will agree that this is truly a simple, inexpensive, but potentially gratifying game for your dog to play while you are there to join in. Perfect owner/dog bonding!
This game can be scaled down to smaller breeds of dogs or cats by simply using smaller muffin tins or even an egg box and scaling the balls to say ping pongs.
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