The Kong Conundrum

4 Jun

Attention pet bloggers: I am in need of your assistance.

I purchased a Kong Wobbler last month when I discovered the popular feeding dispenser was available in a smaller size for dogs up to 25 pounds. Oscar’s one food-motivated pup, so I assumed it wouldn’t take him long to figure out that “wobbling” the toy would make his kibble would fall out. Besides, he’s a professional at cleaning out a classic Kong.

The complete opposite happened.

Instead of moving the Wobbler around with his nose or paw, he tried to reach for the food through the hole like with the classic Kong chews. I tried a different approach, showing Oscar that knocking the toy over results in food, but he would sit there and let me do all the work while he munched away. I left him alone with the Wobbler so he could investigate on his own only to have him turn his back on it after several failed attempts.

To my blogging friends I pose this question: How do you teach a dog to use the Wobbler? Help!

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22 Responses to “The Kong Conundrum”

  1. OscarBlogger June 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Interesting conundrum! Our Oscar didn’t have this problem so I’m not exactly sure what would work, but I have a few ideas.

    Does your Oscar know how to shake a paw? Oscar bats at the Kong and that’s what knocks the food out – maybe teaching him to use his paws more (rather than knocking it over with his nose, which might be harder because the Kong’s so bottom-heavy) will give him more ideas about what to do with the Wobbler. Another thing to do may be to fill the Wobbler much more than usual, so that Oscar doesn’t have to knock the Wobbler over as far before something falls out. Try filling it with good treats, rather than just kibble, so until he gets the hang of it, the reward for using the Wobbler is better. I don’t know how often he eats, but I’d try to teach him when he’s hungry so that he’s more motivated to learn. I’d show him once or twice, then stop – if you’re doing all the work, he’ll have no motivation to do it himself! And try keeping him in a confined space – like sitting in a room with him with the door closed – so he can’t just walk away and give up on it. The last thing I can think of is encouraging Oscar to knock either the bottom or the top of the Wobbler to make it tilt, so maybe put some peanut butter on its top or bottom in the hopes that him licking at the peanut butter will tilt the Wobbler and make some food fall out.

    That’s all I can think of. I’m not sure if any of those ideas will work, but good luck! 🙂

    • Oscar & Pauline June 6, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

      Thanks for the informative tips! If I try them all, Oscar is just bound to master the Wobbler. 😀

  2. Sophie June 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Have you tried shaping his behaviour with the kong? If you do shaping with him, you could sit down with him in a quiet room, with the Wobbler filled, and click/treat for him interacting with it – looking at it, moving toward it, touching it (paw or muzzle), firm touch with paw, and so on. If the Wobbler is filled, the paw touches will give him reinforcement and soon he’ll be a pro at it!

    • Kas June 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

      That’s great advice – just what I was thinking. As Sophie mentioned, keep raising the criteria for what gets Oscar the reward. We do free-shaping for alot of things and it works perfectly in cases like this!

      • Oscar & Pauline June 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

        I do have a clicker I could put to good use, but I don’t want to sabotage his diet by clicking/treating too much. Perhaps I could do brief session with itty bitty treats. 😀

  3. KrittersThatTwitter June 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    you are so cute puppy! that Kong looks like it is work, but the fun type of work!
    Found you on the Blog Hop, stop over to our Blog and say hi if you have time.

    Have a great weekend!
    Lisa, Madison and Abigail

  4. Kristen June 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    No advise here. Just wanted to say Oscar looks so cute working at his kong 🙂

  5. didiwright June 4, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    I’m glad you found a kong suitable for Oscar. I’ve heard they’re really good…However, I’ve never bought one for George, so I can’t help with any advice, I’m afraid. Maybe he’ll work it out eventually?

  6. Happy.Bark.Days June 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    Well, we’re still working on the classic Kong shape with Maple (LOL)! She’s using the ‘senior’ version and plays with it like a chew and fetch toy, so unfortunately I’m short on workable advice to pass on. Hope Oscar gets the hang of his Wobbler because it sounds like a pretty neat treat dispenser 😀

  7. Happy.Bark.Days June 4, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    Whoops, I didn’t realize the classic Kong shape is in fact the Wobbler… In that case, both Oscar and Maple are both facing the same conundrum!

  8. 2browndawgs June 5, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    I have no advice either because the way the 2 brown dawgs got treats out of their kongs…they bounced and bounced them on the floor until the treats fell out. If the the treats were stubborn and didn’t fall out, they bounced harder and harder. I have no doubt they would do the same with the wobbler, (and all that bouncing would be just as annoying…lol).

    Oscar sure looks cute with his kong.

    • Oscar & Pauline June 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      I was hoping Oscar would be so food crazy that he’d push and paw the Wobbler around the room, but I suppose he’s smarter than I thought he was since he waits for me to do all the dirty work. 😛

  9. lepawsvoyage June 6, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    Lele started out with a treat ball. So she use her paw and nose coordination to roll the treats out. Subsequently when I got her a similar wobbler from clean run. She got the idea of pushing but not tilting. Eventually I put in high value treats and she went crazy over it.

    I believe Oscar will get the idea with your guidance. Cheers!

    • Oscar & Pauline June 6, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

      Starting off with a treat ball is a great idea! If I get Oscar a see-through ball, he’ll see food and go crazy! 😀

  10. raisingdaisy June 6, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    We’ve never tried any Kong treat toys with Daisy. She destroyed a heavy Kong chew toy in minutes, so she’d probably just rip it apart to get the treat! Wish I could be of some help.

    Oscar looks adorable in the photos though!

    • Oscar & Pauline June 6, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

      Sweet Daisy? No way… I still have a hard time believing she’s a destructo-pup! 😛

  11. furfilled June 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    You might also try upping the jackpot – put in more delicious treats while you’re demonstrating how it works. It will provide a bit more motivation, and ensure he doesn’t lose interest so quickly. Once he gets that hang of it, and it’s easy for him to knock the kibble out, you can revert to your usual stuffing.

    • Oscar & Pauline June 6, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      A Wobbler filled with tiny bites of chicken might just be enough to drive him crazy!

  12. Snoopy@snoopysdogblog.com June 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Did it come with a training video he could watch? Tee hee – just kidding 🙂 My favourite food dispenser is my bone that Mum stuffs Carrots into – when I can’t get the bits that are stuck inside I wiggle it around to make them come loose, but sorry, no idea how I realised I needed to do that! 🙂

    Good luck Oscar,

    Your buddy Snoopy 🙂

    • Oscar & Pauline June 6, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

      A training video would have been nice. 😉

      Thanks for your input anyway, Snoopy. You just enjoy your yummy treats. 😀

  13. Mumsy and Chancy June 7, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Awwww, Oscar you are so cute! We hope you master that Kong and get to those goodies very soon. We wanted to come and thank you for visiting our blog. Hugs and nose kisses

  14. yuki the dog June 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    i don’t have any advice different then what other people have already said about putting good treats in there…when I first got it I showed yuki that i was putting the treats in there…i will usually put the wobbler on the tile, but she hates any surface not made of carpet or fabric, so with her teeth she’ll pick up the wobbler by inserting her vampire tooth into the hole and takes it to a carpeted area…she then gets frustrated because it doesn’t wobble as much and will hold it down and start pounding it with her little paw until the treats come out…if they don’t come out fast enough she’ll start growling at it…i would just give oscar time with it, eventually he’ll figure it out 🙂

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