Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Brain games and my "Le Penseu"

In last Friday's post, I mentioned that Bella and I were joining You Did What With Your Weiner's 30/30 Challenge.

With caveats.

You see, Bella has been sporting an injury for a few months now that, try as we might, we can't get diagnosed and on a road to recovery. So at the moment, the dog who needs exercise to manage her energy and behavior is on a restricted exercise regime. As of this writing we're up to a whopping "15 minute walks".

However, in an effort to maintain household harmony and keep the holy terror otherwise entertained, we have added 15-minute brain games to her activity roster. So she's getting a few 15-minute walks per day and at least one 15-minute "brain game" session. We're hoping this both meets the 30/30 Challenge requirements and keeps her from going 'postal' on Jan again in the near future.

And she's so good at these games.

She cheats, of course, any way she can figure out how. She knows the objective is to "get the treat" and doesn't much care for how the inventor of the game saw that happening.

We haven't had a cute Bella video here in a while so viola, ask you and you shall receive.

What do you mean you didn't ask? Really? I could have sworn I heard someone out there say "We really want to see a video of Bella and her 'brain games'!" No? Oh well, it's all I've got for tonight** so you're kind of stuck with it.

If you can't see the video here, click this link to watch it on Vimeo.

Some of the things I was working on here was her "wait" (Bella has trouble with impulse control) and a 'raised' playing field. (Bella just recently started having trouble reaching the floor due to her injury so I raised the game up instead of having her reach down for it. She has an elevated food station for dinner which is where I got the idea to raise the game.)

Of course, ultimately she out-smarts me and, as soon as I lift my hand from holding the game in place, she knocks it off the riser essentially winning 'the game'.

She's a smart one.

** I've been trying to create/publish this post since Monday evening but my computer is giving me nothing but grief. If this keeps up, I may be getting that Macbook sooner than expected.


  1. Go Bella!! Hope she is feeling better soon. I can imagine that she is probably not too thrilled with having to have such short walks.

    We have a puzzle similar to this & poor Pauley can't pick them up due to not having his top teeth & not having much of a bottom jaw & Annie refuses to work for treats.

  2. That looks like a really good treat puzzle! And Bella is very quick about getting the treats!

  3. Sorry Bella is less than 100%  Those multiple short walks probably help a lot and would have to count for the challenge ... I loved your video...how did you know i was waiting for one ;)  Actually watching it gave me some ideas for a homemade version...the 'storebought' ones are usually a little large for Gizmo's mouth but I know i can put something similar together for him...Thanks!

  4. Jan from Poodles (and dogs)January 8, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    I love the way dogs can ignore all rules but somehow it's all right.

  5. haha that's awesome!

  6. Cute, smart and food motivated! Bella is awesome!
    Wish our 2 were food motivated and wouldn't think the game was scary. :)

  7. So sorry you cannot get the injury diagnosed. What have you tried so far?

  8. Delilah has a game similar to that, which I admit we don't use nearly as much as we should.  I think she loves it.

    Do you fill every compartment with a treat?  I usually only fill two or three so she has to use her sniffer to find. :-)

  9. It's always neat to see how other dogs do these.  G & M have a "tornado" which has the bone things and also spins.  Gus could not pick up the bones with his extremely long schnoz and would not use his paw unless it was to turn over the whole thing.  I had to tie yarn loops in the bones using the holes on top.  He learned to pick them up with his teeth by the loops and viola!  Molly, on the other hand, can't get it, gives up quickly and lays down, annoyed.  Of course, she's not the one that needs the super exercise.....

  10. Alfie - Alfie's BlogJanuary 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Rooo Bella, I'm so sorry to hear about your restricted walkies - I had to do that for a week once and it was horrible. My humans got me lots of brain games like the one in the video too - and another favourite of mine is to sniff out hidden treats the humans hide for me round the house. Hope you feel better soon! *Waggy tail*

  11. That's great that you are keeping herd busy with mind games when she is on restricted activity. She sure looks like she loves her brain games, and hey, if she can knock it over to win faster, then she's using her brain alright! :-)

  12. Still no real diagnosis, eh? That really sucks. Hopefully you will be able to get it figured out soon for all of your sakes.

    I love those games so much. Shiva has two of them and I try to remember to pull them out every once in awhile. Like Bella she can always use some work on her impulse control and prefers just knocking things over to actually figuring them out. I like your idea of raising it up! It might help force Shiva to use her brains instead of just her brawn. 

  13. I say however she figures it out to do it, cheating or not, shows she's smart to get those treats in whatever way she can!  We got that puzzle for our beagle a couple of Christmases ago....I need to dig it out of the closet and try it again.  If I remember correctly, he used his paws much more than his mouth, to try and dig out the pieces.  Hope Bella is fully recovered soon.

  14. Ha! I really enjoyed watching you play your 'mind game' Bella :) I'm thinkin doggy game inventors need to give us a little more credit in the grey matter department eh? ;)

    By the way, I saw a while ago while Window Shopping a cool wild bowl - doesn't even look like a bowl - it's meant to help slow down doggies who eat too fast butt it looks like it could be a fun treat treasure hunt bowl too. If you're interested, you can take a peek at it over at  http://northmate.com/category/products/green/

    Thank you so much for being willing to go through the trouble of helping our furiends in need. I know they appreciate every drop of kindness they receive :)

    I sure hope Bella's condition gets properly diagnosed soon so she can play without hurting. Paws crossed this happens very soon!

    Speaking of playing... I don't know if you've had a chance to visit Sarge lately, butt he's puttin on a super fun sledding event soon. I am so looking forward to it! I luv to play :D

    Waggin at ya,

  15. Sounds to me like someone needs to invent a game that can't be knocked over! (that will show those little smarty pants!) While I was watching I was thinking to myself "Cali would just knock the entire thing over to get to the treats!" - I think you're pretty brave to hold on to the game . .I'm pretty sure Cali would mistake my hand for a treat :) I hope you get some answers soon, I know how hard it is to make them rest!!