I wrote last week about my resolve to have Chico eat only kibble for dinner. It’s been quite amusing. For a couple days, he was absolutely not willing to eat kibble from his bowl in the evening. On both of those evenings, it snowed. On both of the following mornings, M came to plow and snow blow. Chico *really, really* DOESN’T LIKE either of those machines (or is afraid of them) and the only way to keep him from going to the window/door and yelling at the machine at the top of his lungs is to distract him with treats. Scatter a handful of treats across the floor and he’ll snuffle around and suck them all up, not thinking for a moment about the disturbing noise in the background. Of course, as soon as he eats them all he’s back to barking, so the game usually goes on as long as the disturbance does.
Anyhow, on these two snowy mornings, I placed last night’s kibble in the treat bag, mixed with a few bits of high-value treats. Both days Chico ate an entire dinner’s worth of kibble off the floor and I could only figure that it was because the kibble came out of the treat bag. And, of course, he was hungry because he hadn’t had dinner; that’ll make kibble look a whole lot better to a fella.
The following day, there was no snow to blow (no excuse for a lengthy game of ‘have a cookie instead of barking’) and I had to go out in the afternoon and leave Chico home for a few hours (no working, no training, thus no treats to fill his belly), and when I got back in the evening, I knew that he had to be hungry. But would he eat his dish of kibble? Noooohhh. Put the bowl down for ten minutes, take it away, thirty minutes later try again; we did that a couple times and he was still holding out. In a moment of something – frustration, inspiration – I decided to start feeding him the kibble out of the treat bag as a reward for doing his tricks. He snarfed it right up. I took everything but the kibble* out of the treat bag and dumped it on top of the kibble already in his dish. He ate it. All. Of. It. And pretty fast.
The next night, I again cleaned out the treat bag and placed Chico’s dinner portion of kibble inside. He was mooching around the kitchen, watching to see if I dropped anything good on the floor, so I let him watch me dump the kibble from the treat bag into his bowl. I put the bowl on the floor and he ate it right up.
If I understand this correctly, passing through the treat bag (in Chico’s mind at least) has a magical effect on kibble, turning it from “You must be kidding, I’m supposed to eat this? Where’s the good part?” into “Holy mud! What on earth did I do to deserve this? I just got an ENTIRE BAG of cookies dumped in my dinner dish! Yipeee!”
I can’t say if this will continue, or if he’s adjusted to the new regimen of dry kibble only. We’ll see. I suppose one question is “If I have to do the kibble-shuffle, is Chico still working me?” If so, it is with a much healthier net result. And does it matter? Anybody have an opinion about all that which they’d like to share?
*There’s generally a mix of things in the bag. I’m to understand that the mystery of ‘will it be kibble or will it be cheese that comes out?’ adds value to all the treats.
**This was left at Julie’s for so long she said I could have it. You can buy one at a feed or pet store, or through Amazon. Or, if you find yourself wearing it every single day like I do, you might want a fancy one, like these from Olly Dog.
Annie I love this post. The way we humans work our minds to figure out what is going through our dogs’ minds. I sounds to me like you titrated the whole system from all the dinner out of the bag for treats, to some treats with kibble in the bowl and the high value treats on top, to Chico being curious enough while you were in the kitchen (at dinner time?). At that point the treats coming from the magic bag to his bowl seemed to be enough. It sounds like that is a keeper. For now. Till Chico tries to teach you something else! This post had me laughing out loud and appreciating the animal – human bond.