By Liz Palika
March 7, 2011
Now granted the competition was small, just the four dogs in my household, and Archer is definitely the most food motivated, but this is the first time he beat Bashir so I have to give him some accolades. Yeah, Archer!
I had a hundred (or more) chores that needed to get done this morning but part way through decided the dogs and I needed to play a game. Chores are boring and I enjoy having fun with the dogs. I think the muffin tin game was an interruption between rotating the laundry and vacuuming.
I didn’t invent the muffin tin game so can’t take any credit for it. I’d like to thank who ever did because my dogs all have great fun with it. I use a 12 hole muffin tin because a 6 hole one is too easy. Place a treat in each hole and then cover the treat with a tennis ball.Â Place the tin on the floor and let your dog figure it out.
With multiple dogs, I play the game in in the garage with one dog while the other dogs remain in the house. Although all four can hold down stays while one of them plays, the dog who’s playing gets a little nervous with the other three whining, staring, and leaning his direction.
Each of my four have slightly different techniques. Bashir uses his paws a lot; he scrapes the ball out of the hole with his claws. He also thinks alot; if he knocks a ball out of the hole and it slips into an empty hole where he’s already gotten the treat, he won’t go back there. As the character in Jurassic Park said, “He remembers.”
Riker, the 11 years old, is the slowest of my four but is very deliberate. He sniffs each ball and muffin tin hole and noses the ball out of the way.
Sisko, the puppy, is also a thinker, uses his nose very well, and like Bashir, isn’t fooled when a ball rolls to cover an empty hole. Sisko also gets the most distance on the balls when he paws or noses them out of the way. I was picking them up all over the garage as he was searching for treats.
Archer is the most frantic about the game, pawing, nosing, and grabbing at the balls. Unfortunately, sometimes he’s so intent on getting the treats he doesn’t stop to think or smell and keeps going back to empty holes.
I started timing the dogs because as they got the hang of the game, it took them less time them to empty the tin. I was curious exactly how fast they were. When I first started timing them, it took most of the dogs more than a minute to get all twelve treats and often Riker still takes that long. In today’s contest, Archer got all of the treats in 25 seconds. Bashir was second with 35 seconds. Sisko was third at 40 seconds and Riker took 75 seconds. Yeah, Archer!
Of course I didn’t include the score of about five seconds when Bashir picked up the tin and flipped it over. That’s cheating.
Photos: (top) Archer; (middle) Riker; (bottom) Bashir. All photos by Liz Palika