Kelinn had his third week of puppy class on Tuesday and he is continuing to do well. He has gotten a bit braver in playing with the other puppies, though honestly he’s turned into a bit of a punk. He likes to tease the other puppies into chasing him and then gets mad when they tackle him. Funny enough, Jeni does the same thing. Herding dogs are weird, particularly Icies. Jeni has never played well with other dogs except for other Icies, and sometimes Shelties. Kelinn may be the same way, which is fine with me, as long as he gets along with my other dogs and fosters that come through the house.
He acted like a bit of a spaz in class as well and seemed to forget that he had ever learned any manners. He knows sit, down and stand well but gets a little jumpy when presented with food. He doesn’t physically jump on a person but as our instructor says he is “spazzing” and he just does a little hop when he gets antsy. This week I’m planning to start working on “it’s yer choice” and getting some impulse control around food.
Our “homework” for this week was to have our puppies eat out of a food puzzle or in some way that is not eating out of a bowl. Putting away the food bowl allows your dog to “work” for their food – this stimulates their natural hunting instinct and is mental wearing for them. And just think, instead of your dog gulping down the food in their bowl in five seconds, they’ll spend a good twenty minutes working on their food, and then probably nap afterward.
We feed raw, so a lot of the “traditional” food toys don’t work out for us. A slow feeder bowl meant for kibble, for instance, would be odd and not that effective with ground meat stuck in it. We also feed a lot of “whole prey” like chicken backs, duck carcasses, turkey necks and pork ribs which is honestly a bit of an “interactive” food in itself. Kelinn spent half an hour working on a pork rib bone this morning. We do feed some ground meat which I have always stuffed in a Kong toy for Kelinn. He has not yet eaten out of a food bowl – and he ALWAYS eats in his crate, because I want him to associate his crate with awesome things. He gets some kind of delicious chewy thing every time he goes in his crate, whether it be a Kong with meat, a meaty bone or a bone or Kong with peanut butter, cream cheese or yogurt in it.
Even though we don’t use a food bowl, our instructors wanted to make sure we still had homework, so they told me to try something I hadn’t tried yet. In addition to Kongs, I have also used ground meat or kibble in small quantities as training treats – we do several short training sessions throughout the day which are part of his “meals.” But I wanted to try something new, so for lunch today, I stuffed some ground meat in a cardboard toilet paper tube and froze it. He seemed to enjoy tearing the cardboard apart to get at the meat. We use a similar trick at the shelter where we mix kibble with peanut butter and freeze for the dogs in their kennels. Kelinn took to this a lot more quickly than the Kong as well – he still does not seem to have the proper food motivation to really get through a whole Kong. He gives up pretty quickly even if left in his crate with the Kong for an hour or so. Nothing like Snoopy, who is the master of the Kong and can finish even the most difficult frozen solid Kong with not a drop of food left.
I think I may give a try to putting some food in a loosely closed box to see if he’ll work to get it out. Like I said, his food motivation is not extremely high so I have to keep the games easy but we will see. Once he knocked a ball under the couch and I watched him to see how long he would go after it, and he was intensely trying to get the ball back for a while. I love his toy drive! Food drive is important to build as well though so increasingly difficult food toys should be good for him.