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Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Mischief-Weasley vs The Tug-A-Jug

Like all proud pet parents I am naturally besotted with my lovely furry companions and I tend to blather on and brag more then a  bit about their many winning qualities.   For example Weasley is undeniably a gorgeous puggie

and full of sweetness and affection.

However, I am afraid there is one virtue he may be lacking.....intelligence.  Now I have never been particularly keen on having a super smart canine, after all a highly intelligent dog is apt to get in lots and lots of trouble. Still I've always foubd my own pets clever.   My reason for feeling somewhat hesitant in regards to Weasley's brain power is due to the tug-a-jug debacle.

A Tug-A-Jug similar to the offender

Now its likely that every reader of this blog is familiar with the tug-a-jug but in case you are not its a jar with flexible stick in it.  When the dog tugs the stick the treats in the jar spill out.  Its a good puzzle for pugs as you need not have a long nose to solve it, its all done with the mouth.  Our late pug Bingo was a whiz at it.  Tubby and Ping just don't seem interested.  Weasley, however, is desperate, and I mean desperate, to get in that tug-a-jug but its just beyond him. 

First he sits beside the tug-a-jug looking cutely dejected and wondering what human silliness it is that has lead me to give him an inaccessible jar filled with food rather then a bowl.  As he gradually realizes that I am not going to open the jar, frenzied panic sets in.  There is food and he can not reach it.

While not visible in this photo Weasley frantically scratched and bit at the side of the jar loudly baying all the while.  The one thing he did not try, pulling on the cord.  I'm not that cruel that I can stand ideally by while a pug starves so I tried demonstrating the technique needed to get the treats.  Weasley was quite pleased to eat them but did not make the connection.  Then I tried putting peanut butter on the stick, Weasley licked it off.  At one point he inadvertently pulled the stick and was rewarded with a burst of treats: Success!!!  Except he made no connection between his action and the flurry of treats.  He never tried the tug again, but returned to squealing and pawing the sides of jar.  Finally, he looked so depressed

I just gave him some treats. 

I have tried the tug-a-jug with Weasley now every day for five days and no success.  Does anyone else have a dog baffled by this puzzle? As a professional special education teacher you would think I had some clever ideas for how to instruct Weasley in this skill but my mind, like Weasley's, is a blank.  Any advice would be appreciated.


  1. LOL! I've never seen this toy before. Poor Weasley.

  2. Never seen this one. Bailey is bright about some stuff and other stuff leaves him clueless.

  3. Lol! Those photos are priceless. My dogs have all taken to food puzzles pretty well, though my pittie mix's solution to everything is "throw it against the wall or the ground until it breaks and/or food falls out" haha. Our Pyr mix is a little "slow" however and (we feed raw) has always been baffled by fish, of all things. If I ever give him a whole fish (the other dogs love this and eat it up right away), he carries it around for about an hour... licking it, throwing it, playing with it, but he cannot figure out how to eat it.

  4. Poor Lil feels Weasley's pain. While Gracie will get the treats out of toys Lil just lacks the attention span to focus and runs around. I think she's AD/HD. Maybe we should start a group for dogs with learning disabilities?

  5. Awww Weasley is so cute! Maybe some day he will figure out the trick :-)

  6. I'm not familiar with the Tug -A-Jug but I am very familiar with that pitiful pup face! I'd give in too!

  7. Stop helping him. :)

    Weasley isn't dumb. It's only that he's learned to look for human help in resolving the issue. Dogs have evolved to be extremely sensitive to humans, and to look to them for help in every situation. (For more about this check out the book "Inside of a dog: What dogs see, smell and know")

    Weasley is used to you helping him do everything. Eat, go for walks, probably even scratch that crazy itch right where he can't reach.

    In the book I just told you about, they did an experiment where buckets with food in it were placed on either side of a person, with a dog held facing the person. The person then pointed at a bucket (both contained food) the dog went to the bucket the human pointed at every time.

    When the same experiment was tried with a tame wolf, the wolf seemed not to notice the pointing finger and went to whichever bucket tickled its fancy.

  8. Oh Weasley, dear Weasley, there are so many different ways of being smart. I suspect that you have the whole 'keeping one's human wrapped around one's little paw' thing totally sorted out.
    Toodle pip!
    Bertie (who is very quick on the uptake at agility but much less so when it comes to working out any sort of game involving trying to access treats, where, as with Weasley, frustration soon sets in).

  9. I had a foster pug for a little while, and finding toys that worked for her was really difficult. It isn't just the flatness of the face (at least not for Daisy!) it's also their whole tooth structure is really different. I ended up making puzzles out of household objects for her. I put treats under a piece of furniture that had 1 1/2 inches of clearance from the floor, and let her go nuts trying to reach it. Just figuring out that she had to use her paws to get it and not her face was challenging.

    I also put treats in an empty Gatorade bottle (supervised only so she didn't eat the bottle) and played hide and seek for treats in a room away from the other dogs. I also had an idea to make one of these:

    but a dog version for her to try, but I didn't get to keep her long enough to do it. There are no dog "Hanging" treats like that as far as I'm aware.

    While we're discussing puggy intelligence, would you be interested in trying an experiment with me? While I had my foster pug, I did an experiment involving intelligence testing Daisy the pug vs. Rocco the chihuahua. Daisy scored very low, but I never put up the results because I'm wondering how much intelligence has to do with it.

    Daisy came from a home where not much was done with her, ever. She had toys and treats (lots and lots and LOTS) of treats, but no training and no exposure to anything beyond the house. She played an important roll in keeping an old, disable man company, but I wonder if she scored low because she'd never been asked to think before.

    I'd really like to explore the intelligence level of pugs, but I only have access to the one! Would you be interested in trying the intelligence test on your dogs and seeing if they scored better?

    1. Oops...forgot to specify this is a reply to the comment you left on my blog :D

  10. Does he normally play tug? What happens if you hold the jug? Will he tug? I'm afraid Delilah would just eat the jug.

    This is too much rhyming for me. LOL

  11. Actually we have never seen one of those before. We did however chuckle reading your account. Hope someone has a good suggestion to make it work. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  12. What a funny post! That's a great toy, never saw it before! Well now we teachers must agree that Weasley scores high on 'emotional intelligence' lol (or have you escaped the curse of 'multiple intelligences' and 'mandatory differentiation' where you teach?) Anyway, glad Weasley got his treats eventually, he's so sweet.

  13. Glad you'll try it!

    Here is the test:

    It doesn't require any training whatsoever, your dog doesn't even need to know "Sit" as long as you have someone to restrain the dog. :)

  14. I kind of have to guide Onyxx and show him how to do food puzzles. His natural instinct is just to chew on the opening and hope food will fall out. Mr. N figures out puzzles pretty quickly.

  15. I've never heard of a tug-a-jug, but I do have other puzzles for my dogs; I have several Kyjens. It's very interesting how each dog solves the puzzles in different ways.

    --Woofs (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.

  16. I think Weasley knows how to look very cute!
    We have never seen that puzzle toy- and many times wished we would take the time to see what kind of puzzle toys there are out there- that might help entertain the little monster if for instance we EVER had company,, but then of course a steak or something would need to be involved for true attention getting effects.
    Sometime we will look for that bottle-- it looks very interesting,, and I know Weasley is very happy you gave in and gave him some food.
    tweedles mommy

  17. Greta has this toy and she is a great problem solver. I don't put very many treats in it but it did not take her long to figure out pulling on the rope would get them to come out. She would pull and yank it all over the room. But then she figured out that if she got it in the dog bed and tipped it, the treats would just fall out.

  18. When you're as sweet and cute as Weasley... nothing else really matters :)

    I wish I could pitch in with my two cents but I've never played with that toy. In fact, I wonder how long it would last if I played with it. I'd probably chew right through it.

  19. Aw, poor baby! Don't give up, keep giving him the toy and maybe encourage him to play tug with it more. He'll get it eventually!


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