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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking for some brain games for a smart 10 week old mini. Seems he plays for awhile with his toys, me etc. but loses interest and then finds ways to get in trouble.
What "brain games" did some of you use to engage your smart poos?
 

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Training would count as brain game stuff. Aside from training basic manners you could teach Rudy some tricks. Does he like puzzle toys?
 

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What kind of training are you doing? I find "capturing" with a clicker to be great brain exercise. Basically you wait for the dog to offer behavior you want, then reward it, instead of prompting the behavior first. It requires them to puzzle out why they're getting a reward and experiment, which is why it's good brain work. A couple of good ones to do with a 10-week-old:

Go to your crate/mat. Pick a spot you want the puppy to go to when he's riled up. Something like into the crate or onto a particular blanket/towel/mat works well. Bring him near the object and then just let him do his thing. When he looks toward the object, either click the clicker or say "Yes!" and give him a treat. Keep doing that until it's clear he understands that looking at the object gets him a reward (he'll start whipping his head toward it really quickly and then looking at you like, "Treat time!!!"). (Edit: by the way, it's easier to tell if he's got it if you don't stand behind the object -- otherwise, he could just be coming toward you.) Once he's got that, stop giving treats for looking, and wait for him to try something else. Maybe he looks for a second longer than he has been. Maybe he steps toward it. When he tries the new thing, if it's a step closer to what you eventually want, click or say "Yes!" and give him a jackpot treat (a better treat, or more treats than usual). Then go back to rewarding him for the new thing. Don't reward the old behavior in this session, just the new one. Every time he tries something new that you want, he gets a jackpot and that becomes the new reward criteria.

Split it into multiple short sessions. Every time you start over, take your criteria back a step or two and build back up -- he should go through the steps he knows pretty quickly, but you don't want it to be frustrating. End each session when he's still excited and engaged. Over time, you can get to the point where he goes to the mat, lies down, and stays there. Then eventually you can introduce a command word and work to where he only gets rewards for doing it when asked.

You can actually train lots of things using this method, including basic commands like sit. It just takes patience...which is why I personally only use it for fun stuff. When he's really got the hang of it, google "101 Things to Do With a Box" for a good shaping/capturing game.

Impulse control. This one's similar in that he has to puzzle out what's happening. Hold a treat in the palm of your hand. If the puppy reaches for the treat, close your fingers around the treat so he can't get it. Don't say anything -- you want him to wonder what's going on. As soon as he stops trying to get the treat, open your hand again. Continue until he voluntarily notices the treat, but leaves it alone (even if it's only for a fraction of a second). Then say "Take it!" and let him have the treat. After he's got it down, you can up the duration he has to wait, make the treat more enticing, etc.

Hunt the treat is a pretty good brain game, too. You just hide treats in a room (be careful you don't put them inside anything you don't want the puppy chewing, though, at least at first), then take him into the room and say "Find it!" and have at it. I would make them easy to find at first, then more difficult as he gets the hang of the game.

If you're using a crate, you can also google "crate games" for lots of training games that incorporate the crate. Always a good skill to build.

Have you been using any stuffed or puzzle toys with him? For example, line the inside of a Kong chew with peanut butter, stuff it full of kibble or something else yummy, then freeze it. It'll take him forever to get all the yummy stuff out of it, and in the meantime he's not getting into trouble.
 

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lisasgirl those are great games. I also do lots of impulse control games with my poodles even now at 3 and approaching 10 years old.
 

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lisasgirl those are great games. I also do lots of impulse control games with my poodles even now at 3 and approaching 10 years old.
I do impulse control games with Archie any time he seems bored or riled up, and he's almost 4. It's still the thing that wears his brain out the quickest!
 

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Hunt the Treat is a great favourite here, and still the best way I have found to work off energy on wet days. There is the impulse control of coming out into the hall and waiting quietly there while I hide the treats, the fun of finding all the treats, the physical energy of clambering and jumping over furniture, and then the polite behaviour needed to persuade me to do it all over again - a really good workout!

Another good one is the Three Pot Trick - three yoghurt pots or cups, one treat, muddle them round, ask the dog to find the treat.
 

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fjm that find the treat version of the shell game is one of the tricks on the AKC tricks title lists. If one is at all inclined, teach those trick title tricks.
 

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Hide and seek! one of my kids hold him in the living room, and the other hide and call him several time. He enjoys this game so much! So do us. Sometimes I get him to do the "stay" command while I hide and this teaches him impulse control, not superb yet with staying while I hide since he gets excited but we are working on that :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
WOW! Such great responses! This little guy is perfection in every way but impulse control that includes his mouth full of baby puppy teeth! I asked about brain games because I think if I engage his mind more he won't be so "mouthy" and using me as a chew toy. I've done everything I've read about, "be a tree", walk away, yip like a litter mate etc. but the mouthing resumes shortly after again.
He starts puppy classes June 10th but, an you will all think I'm nuts but, I don't want the instructor to think I have a behavior issue pup! Just like having a child that you want to excel and reach their full potential!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't have any puzzle toys but I have seen the squirrel hunt one. What would you suggest? If it is something I could put in his long term kennel while I'm at work would be great. My daughter works from home and I live with her and her husband and my grand children so he gets outside during the day and interacts with her but for those times in between it would be great for him.
 

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The Nina Ottosen puzzles are fun. Also for impulse control and mouthy behavior, my version of the game lisasgirl described starts with treats in both hands and my hands closed and resting on my knees (sit on the floor if you need to since your pup is a young mpoo). Let Rudy paw and mouth your hands, but keep them closed. He will get confused about why he can't get the treats and will likely sit back a bit and look at you. The instant he does that say good and give a treat. Set up the same way again and allow him to try for the treat. Again when he backs off to look at you mark it and give a treat. Repeat as needed. Very quickly he will figure out that the way to get the treat is to get off your hands. It may be hard on your hands the first few times, but what it will graduate into is an understanding that mugging you doesn't make anything fun happen.
 

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Rory loves the Nina Ottossen puzzle toys as well. He uses the level 3 toys as the others are too easy for him. They are not supposed to be used unsupervised however so might not be the best choice at this stage. You could try some kong toys, the classic works for most dogs but some aren’t interested. I give Rory the kong wobbler (there are many other similar ones available) when I go to work, he loves it and I just use a portion of his breakfast kibble in it.
 

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Hunt the Treat is a great favourite here, and still the best way I have found.

This is a great game for my two who are treat driven. The other one just misses out. But I have a treat launcher. I pull the trigger and 2 or 3 treats go flying. The two dogs have to consider where they hit the floor, and the find out where they slid to get the reward. It is great fun for them. I don’t use it everyday, but when I pick up the launcher they are so ready.



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