Sunday, 30 January 2011

In a comment on my last post about activities to keep Penny thinking, Jess the Dog Shopper mentioned a game where dogs have to fetch a toy that matches the one the human is holding. (At least, I think that's what she meant.)

Well, of course that was an excuse to pop into my favorite pet shop, Murphy's in Hawthorn, to buy a set of new toys. I could have bought a new copy of a toy we already have, but I thought it would be better to get two new ones so they could age together, with the same appearance and smell.

Two toys looked good, so I bought a pair of each.

I was attracted to the little animal toys because the label said 'eco naturals' but when I got them home and looked, there was no information on the label about why they should be called 'natural'. And they're made in China. Seeing I have the greatest respect for Murphys as an ethical business, I'll assume the toys are as good as they look.

Penny loved the little creatures. They seem to have a squeaker and what might be a little crackly bottle inside. However, I don't let her have toys unsupervised, unless they are specifically 'home alone' toys like Kongs.

Anyway, back to the game. As I've learned from reading Honey's blog, I started with the simplest version of the game. Penny sat in the kitchen while I hid one little creature-toy. I came back with the other little creature in my hand, held it near Penny's nose so she could sniff it, and said 'Find this one'.

She already knows to wait in the kitchen after I've held a treat or a toy near her nose, waiting for me to hide it at the other end of the house. But this task is different, in that she sees me with a duplicate of what she's meant to find.

I was amazed. She shot off into the other end of the house and came back with the matching toy. Then she waited for her reward - the exactly identical one I was holding!

I guess it's a reward because she wants the one I have.

At last, at long last, we have a game that doesn't involve food. Hooray!

After we had played a few times with the little creatures, we played with the dumbell-ball toys.

Next step will be to put two different toys at the other end of the house and see whether she can bring the correct one back. But we won't move to that step until she's had lots of success with this simpler version.


Maggie and Mitch said...

What cute toys! Penny is so lucky to have a mom like you that is always finding different ways to challenge her.
We're hoping that we have a snow melt so that it gradually seeps into the ground. Rain will cause flooding because it melts too fast and has nowhere to go.
The problems we're having now is that the piles at the sides of the roads and driveways are really making it hard for drivers to see and it's really dangerous pulling out into oncoming traffic! Backhoes take it away but it takes a long time to move it and then where do you continue to put it? Another snowstorm is predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh joy!


Papillon Bleu said...

Oooooooooh I am eager to know more about this experiment! Tell me more about it! Is it a match at each time?
I am sorry I haven't paid a little visit sooner. As you have seen , I am deep in the middle of a story ( shouldn't be too long) and I hope I can publish it( self publish). I hope it will work! :)))

parlance said...

Maggie and Mitch, I can't imagine how difficult it must be living with such a lot of snow. Once when I was visiting London it snowed quite a bit, which I gather is unusual these days, and I could hardly even walk, I was so scared of falling over. I can't even begin to think of driving on snowy roads.

Good luck getting safely through this hard winter!

parlance said...

Papillon Bleu, she's matched it so far. We'll see how she goes when it gets harder.

I'm looking forward to your story!

Jess the Dog Shopper said...

I'll look up my notes from class on the 'match game,' though it sounds like Penny has already shot to the top of the class. We were mostly putting a pile in front of the dogs and making them pick the matching toy. We would put the pile out and then pull a toy from behind our backs and say match and then hiding the toy behind our backs again. The dog then had to find the matching toy from the pile (that was as far as Cassie and I got). The point was to work on both memory and visual association (and a bunch of other things). I think Penny might be ahead of us already!

parlance said...

Jess, thanks for that! I invented my own version because I wasn't sure what to do, but Penny has to take it easy for a few days, so running around the house might have to go on hold. I'll try it the way you've just described, and look forward to hearing the details.