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Last weekend I took the dogs on a walk through a new park that opened up just a little south of the dog park. It is a wide open space filled with trees and fields and a lake and stream. It has birds and squirrels and rabbits and fox, and all sorts of other critters. There are cabins to rent and trails to hike and panoramic landscapes to be photographed.
Crunching along in the snow along the freshly marked trails, I couldn’t help but feel moved. I could stretch my arms wide in any direction and not touch another human or building. I could breathe. So much space and so much beauty in one place.
I could tell the dogs loved it too. Jasper wanted to explore everything (i doubt he stayed on one side of me for any length of time) and Daisy was sniffing and exploring as much as she could. Cupcake wanted to stop and sniff EVERYTHING. So many new scents and sounds and terrain to be explored.
I think that’s why this week’s video caught my attention. It reminded me of that park and the fun that can be had when hiking through the woods, in the middle of winter.
Looks like fun, doesn’t it?
Happy Friday everyone!
A few people have sent me notes and private messages inquiring about the games I play with my dogs. They wanted to know what game or games would for their dog(s). I know Christmas is coming up, so I thought I would at least share my own experience with some of the games I have and tell you which ones I want to get next.
Trixie Chess Game
The Chess Game by Trixie was the first game I ever purchased for my dogs. I thought it would be a difficult one for them to figure out (it was labeled Level 3), and it was, but only for a short time. Cupcake was the first to figure out that there were treats under those golden cups, but it wasn’t long before Jasper and Daisy did too.
It was also Cupcake (Master Puzzle-solver) who first figured out that the red blocks slid sideways, and that they hid even more treats. She loves this puzzle, but mostly because it is so easy for her now.
I love this toy because it got my dogs started on puzzles. I also love it because it helped Daisy to gain confidence. When I first tried this puzzle with Daisy she was skittish and jumpy and nervous. She needed a lot of encouragement to keep trying, but she never stopped trying. Now she is a quick as Cupcake at solving it and she loves it just as much as Cupcake does.
My opinion? A great puzzle to start out on. If your dogs are a little more shy or tentative, this is a great one to start on. It’s also a great game for beginner dog gamers.
The next game I purchased for the dogs was the Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado Interactive Dog Toy. I was lucky this time because I was able to let my dogs try it out before I purchased it. The toy has 3 levels, with each containing 4 spots in which to place a treat. Each level spins around to reveal the treat. Dogs can nudge or paw each level to get it to move. The game also has 4 bone-shaped cups that can cover any one of the treat spots and prevent them from moving on to the next level until the cups are removed.
I love this toy because it allows me to increase or decrease the complexity of the puzzle based on which dog is doing it. For Maggie, I can leave it at its easiest level (no cups) and help encourage her to solve it on her own. For Daisy and Cupcake, I increase the difficulty by placing the bone cups on the higher levels so they can get them out. Jasper seems to have become more of a pro at this one, so I put the cups in the middle level and on the bottom so he really has to work to remove them and get to the treats.
There is only one thing I don’t like about this toy and that is the bone cups themselves. They are smooth and difficult to get out (especially for Cupcake with her limited teeth) because they slip out of their mouths so easily. If they had groves in them it would be easier but I still love this game a lot. I just put them upside down for Cupcake, so they are not a deterrent to the fun.
My opinion? A great game for beginners and intermediate dog gamers. The ability to make it easy or more difficult is fun for me and my dogs. They love this game.
The most recent game I purchased for Jasper, Daisy and Cupcake is the Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Interactive game. By far, this is the hardest dog game we have in the house. I know for sure this is true because more than once Daisy has given up and tried to chew it apart just so she can get to the treats!
The Dog Twister is made up of ten sliding pie pieces within a circle frame. Each pie piece hides a spot in which to hide treats. A dog must slide each pie piece in order to reveal the treat hidden underneath.
Sounds easy right? Not quite. The game also comes with twelve bone inserts that can be used to prevent a dog from moving the pie pieces. The only way to move a pie piece after that is to remove the bone(s). As the game master, you can put in one to two bones or all twelve and increase the difficulty of the game.
My dog love this one, but are also easily frustrated by it, so I help them out on this one quite a bit. So far, the only one to figure out that the bone pieces need to be removed is Daisy, and even she is hit or miss on this. I started all four dogs out with no bone pieces and have now worked up to two, with help from mom.
My opinion? This game might be a better choice for a more experienced dog gamer. If you want a game that your dog can grow into over time, this might be the game for you, but I think I would start with an easier one for dogs who are new to dog games.
Future game purchases
There are quite a few other dog games out there ranging from easy to more difficult. Amazon has quite a few of them. I already have my eye on a few more that I want to try out with my dogs.
Number one on my list is the Trixie Mad Scientist for Dogs. This one requires that treats are placed in the beaker-shaped modules suspended above the game’s base. In order for a dog to get the treats out, he must spin the bottles with his nose. I think Jasper would really love this one. They say it is a Level Two game, but I have a feeling it will be more difficult for all my dogs.
The other game I am looking to buy is the Trixie Gambling Tower. This one requires a dog to pull pieces out with their teeth and to remove cups to get to the treats. This game is labeled Level 1 (Easy), but I still think it would be a fun one to do with my dogs. This is a great one for beginning dog gamers too.
Whatever toy you decide to get your pet, make sure it is fun for them and you. Give your dog time to figure it out on her own, but if you see her becoming frustrated, help her out. I promise you, you won’t be giving her the solution to the whole puzzle. I have shown my dogs how to do something on each of their puzzles and they rarely take that information and use it again the next time.
I hope you all have a great time! Let me know how it goes!
(Side note: I was in Petco this weekend to get new leashes and they had a whole wall dedicated to dog toys! You don’t have to wait for it to be delivered. You can go get one now. )
I always like to joke that Jasper is like the worst Wide Receiver in football. He has a terrible habit of running ahead and not looking back to see where I am throwing a ball. Thus, he often not only misses catching the ball, but he also often misses seeing where it landed. (Luckily, we have cue words that allows me to guide him to the lost ball.)
I think Jasper’s own #dogsfethchingballsfail history is what made me sit up and take notice when I came across this gem. I hope you will get a kick out of it.
Feel free to tweet your own pics of your dogs doing the same thing. You can tweet me directly @melspetpals. I would love to see them. :)
Happy Friday everyone!
If you ask, I am sure many people would tell you that I tend to go a little overboard where my pets are concerned. (I know for sure my family would!) I tend to buy them things that I think will enrich their lives and make them happy.
I think in the case of my dogs, I wanted to make up for the bad lives they had early on. I also want them to have lives that is enriched by a wide variety of fun experiences. (What’s the fun in having a dog if you can’t enjoy the fun they have with you?)
So while I do have a logic behind what I do for my pets, I also know that I am not the norm.
After all, I …
Buy dog games for my dogs, just so they can work their brains on a cold winter’s night.
Have at least 20 tennis balls so my crazy Sheltie has plenty to play with throughout the year.
Take my dogs to a wide variety of parks so they can explore something new and different.
Hide treats in the yard so my dogs can have fun using their noses and their brains to find them.
Even placed a step stool next to my tall bed just so my dogs can come up when they want.
But this weekend I think I may have gone a little overboard (even for me). On a trip to Costco I found a dog bed that was the absolute ultimate in dog bed luxury.
How could I resist?
It contains orthopedic memory foam with cooling gel and has a plush pillow top cover. It’s softer than a baby’s bottom and it is so squish-able, in that memory foam kind of way, that even I want to lie down on it.
It’s too bad I didn’t think about the size. Hmmm… crazy? Overboard?
So, what over-the top-kind of thing have you done for your pet(s)?
I don’t know about you, but I like to sing. I sing in my house. I sing while driving in my car. And, I sing to my dogs, wherever we are.
Thankfully, they they do not seem to mind my singing, not even when I make up songs about them.
The only time I was ever joined by a singing dog was when our dear friend, Henry Carl, joined us for a jaunt to the dog park. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can say with any certainty that it was because he loved my singing. Instead, I suspect he may have been crying out from the pain it brought to his sensitive ears.
Maybe that is what this German Shepherd pup was trying to convey, but his vocals were so impressive I could not help but share. I hope it will bring you a smile.
Happy Friday everyone!