We have an Australian kelpie called Tia. I think she is a red kelpie crossed with a normal kelpie but at any rate - she is a kelpie through and through. She gulps her food like she has never been fed and also like to bury bones and other bits and pieces to the delight of the chickens who promptly dig it up and eat it themselves.
In order to give her a treat that she cant bolt down in a half second and also to be able to leave something for her to find later - we created a time lapse capsule dog toy for her!
I had seen something like this at our dog sitters place but it was free standing on a frame and moveable. I didn't have the skills, time or patience for something like that so decided we could use the same principals and make something similar with what we had.
Once you've seen it - you don't really need instructions but I'll run you through what I did so you at least know the pitfalls to avoid and the improvements to make!
Here's what I did...
I fished a couple of soft drink bottles out of the recycling bin and gave them a wash. I started by using a craft knife to cut holes in the sides and then when the husband caught sight of this activity, he got out the power tools and cut nice neat-ish holes the right size with a mouse hole drill bit.
As long as the holes are more or less opposite each other on the side of the bottle, it should be all good.
Thread the bottles onto a piece of dowel that you find lying around in the garage looking lost and alone. If you cant find an orphaned piece of dowel, a broom handle or a straight-ish stick from the garden will work just as well.Check that the bottles spin freely - although now our dog has got the hang of getting the treats out, I wish I had made some of them a bit firmer so they didn't spin quite so easily.
I then found a couple of small star pickets, also looking lost and lonely, and banged them into the ground so that they were positioned as far apart as the ends of the stick. I used a cable tie to hold the dowel in place but a piece of wire or string would work too. It will need to be fairly firm as the dog isn't going to be gentle with this toy!
So now you have a string of bottles that will spin along a stick that is held off the ground by the star pickets. And that's it - you've done it! Now the really fun part! Put some small biscuits, like cat biscuits (Tia raids the cat bowl for these all the time) or broken up dog biscuits into the bottles and show them to your dog.
Even though Tia watched me put the cat biscuits in the bottle and could smell them, it took her about ten minutes of sniffing around and looking at them before she worked out how to get them out.
I pushed the bottles and made them spin a few times. She saw the biscuit fall out and finally twigged how to get them out and started pushing at the bottles with her head and paws to tip them up.
Once she had the hang of it she was away and seemed to enjoy making the biscuits tip out. The chickens can see the biscuits but can get at them even though they peck at the bottle from all angles for ages!
Since then I have cut holes in the sides of two of the bottles and put the lids back on those ones to make it a bit harder for her. I leave one bottle "easy" so she gets an instant reward and wants to stay for more, but the other two are harder to get the biscuits out as upside down isn't enough anymore. She has to balance them or tip them slowly so the biscuits slide over the holes to fall out.
I cant say it takes her longer than a few minutes to get them out, but it does make for a good way to distract her when you need her out of the way for something. I often put a few biscuits in the bottles on my way out the door so she gets something fun to do when we leave the house.
I've seen her wander over and have a sniff to see if the biscuit fairy has been at all, which usually triggers the biscuit fairy to put her book and cuppa down, get off her backside and deliver said biscuits!
This doesn't replace not walking your dog or paying attention to it but I see it as an activity that she can do by herself and uses a bit of brainpower to get the reward. We don't feed her exclusively from the bottles - Its just where most of her treats go now. It hasn't stopped her from begging at the table nor stopped anybody for falling for the big brown eyes and slipping a titbit under the table to her.
Maybe I should serve dinner to the family in one of the devices!? ;)
If you have one of these or know of something similar, pop a link to it in the comment section and share it with us all!
Green-ness: 5/5 for creating something new with what you have already
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for not spending a cent!
Time cost: About 15 minutes all up.
Skill level: Cutting round holes in the side of slippery plastic bottle - so not that easy!
Fun-ness: Great fun to watch the dog snorting and snuffling around for the treat when it finally falls out of the bottle!