Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rainy Day Games: The Hallway Kibble Game

With August 2011 being possibly the rainiest month Philadelphia has ever seen, we've had plenty of time to play indoor games lately.

I learned about the Hallway Kibble Game from Leigh Seigfried of Opportunity Barks, who taught it as a method of doggy life enrichment. This game is ridiculously simple -- like, so simple that I didn't even try it for weeks because I thought there was no way dogs could conceivably be entertained by this -- but so far every furball I've tried it on has loved it.

To play this game you need: a handful of dry kibble, a dog (or dogs), and a hallway.

Then you...

(ready? ready??)

...throw the kibble down the hallway, a few pieces at a time, and let the dogs chase it down and eat it.

That is the entire game.

You can feed your dog's entire kibble ration this way. They just don't get tired of it.

Also, while I definitely would NOT recommend playing this game with a dog who had serious food guarding issues, Gremlin exhibited minor food guarding when she first came to us, and I really feel like playing the kibble game helped her get over that. Having a consistent supply of good food that she could eat safely in her crate probably helped a whole lot more, granted, but I think the kibble game helped too.

Playing this game taught her that she didn't have to fight Pongu for the kibble because more would come along seconds later, and if she wasted too much time trying to guard the kibble that had already been thrown, she'd miss out on fresh waves of food. The constant distraction of new food being tossed down the hallway also helped her ignore the presence of another dog nearby, and the fact that kibble is a fairly low-value food made it not really worth getting snappy over. Almost before she realized it, Gremlin was eating right alongside Pongu with no conflict whatsoever.

Obviously you would want to be very careful about playing this game with newly introduced dogs, or those with even slightly serious resource guarding behavior, but I did find it helpful in getting Gremlin desensitized to eating with another dog nearby. So, depending on the dogs you're working with, that may be a side benefit of playing the Hallway Kibble Game.

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