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Friday, August 01, 2008

Will Work for Food

Chocolate Lab Waiting at Window
It is not common for dog owners to make their pups work for their food and treats these days. When I say work, I don't mean plowing the fields before they get their daily grub but rather using their natural born instincts and cleverness to either find or get their food.

In order to keep our own Labs sharp, we try to use their natural innate abilities throughout the day. Hence, our Lab Brats actually work for their food.

How so? Well, Labrador Retrievers are sporting dogs and they were originally bred to become hunting companions for people. Since neither or the humans in our house are hunters, we give them other ways to use their hunting skills and further nurturing the pack order.

In the morning, the Lab Brats Daddy takes the girls for a walk while I hang back to do some exercising of my own and straighten up the house. I also get fresh water and food together for the Lab Brats before they get home. The water is put into their elevated dish holders and the two bowls with their food are stacked one inside the other and hidden in the house.

Where do I hide them? When starting off I used to hide them somewhere the dogs could also see them but not reach them. Now we hide them in closets, drawers, under things, etc. A new day brings a new hiding place.

Now some people may think it is mean to hide their breakfast from them but they love it! As soon as they return, they run around the house with their noses in the air. They must hunt down the scent of their food bowls and alert us to where they are before they are fed. Once they have found them, Cheyenne will let out a single bark to let me know they are ready to show me what they found and upon following the sound, I will find both girls sitting straight up with their noses to the area of the food bowls.

Are they ever wrong? Nope! Depending on how difficult I make it, it may take them a while but they do eventually find their prize through their innate hunting skills.

A few "good girls" and deliverance of food is all they need as a reward for being good hunters. Now, if only I can get them to hunt down my car keys. *laugh*



Anonymous adrienne romero said...

what a good idea..i will try this with my lab Dino, he would enjoy it!!

August 06, 2008 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

This is great! I think my (3 mo old baby) lab has some significant hunting instincts and I'm trying to figure out ways to help her redirect that away from stalking the cats. I have no idea what I'm doing, though, and am having a hard time finding tracking dog trainers in my area. How did you teach them that they need to go find the food, as opposed to hiding it and they accidently stumble across it? Thanks for this awesome blog!

August 08, 2008 8:57 AM  

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