I'm so excited to talk about games today! The Trixie Game Bone Puzzle to be precise…
This is the first article in my quest to find the best toys for my dogs and yours.
I'll tell you what I like and what I don't like about the toys.
And of course, you'll get the final verdict from the dogs themselves.
The whole idea started with Chuck, a reader here at GSC.
He asked about imaginative ways to train and entertain his GSD/Husky Dakotah.
See, I do take requests! 🙂
We had cold, rainy weather this past weekend. So it was the perfect time to break out the new puzzle games I got on Amazon this past week.
What are the Benefits of Puzzle Games?
Puzzles are a super way to train and play with your German Shepherd.
- They help your dog channel their curious and energetic minds into something positive.
- Release energy when physical exercise is not possible.
- Puzzle games also make dogs problem solvers. And believe me, you want a problem-solving dog.
Why do you want a problem solving German Shepherd?
The benefit is their problem-solving skills spill over into formal training sessions.
Dogs with problems solving skills learn quicker and excel at more and more difficult challenges.
But puzzle games are also for when;
You need to keep them busy and under your eye while you get something done.
Nature is keeping you from playing tug, fetch or agility outside.
You have an older, less physically active dog like Charley.
Or, you're just in a laid back mood.
This past weekend the pack and I played with the Trixie Game Bone puzzle.
And we got a good few hours of play, had a ton of fun and great laughs.
Yes, I always laugh with my dogs!
Trixie Game Bone Puzzle
The instructions say the game is for “beginner to intermediate canine gamers”.
I think that depends on a few things;
- What drives your dog. What does your dog perceive as ‘worth working for'?
- Their personality type. Is your dog an introvert or extrovert?
- Age and aptitude. Very young or much older dogs might take longer to ‘get into' the puzzle than a dog in his or her prime.
How Did My Dogs Do?
Charley took the longest to settle in with the puzzle. That's because she's the more cautious of the 3.
She had a bad past and takes longer to trust new things and people.
Lexi, she's the youngest, at just over 12 months old she loved exploring the puzzle in short bursts.
She's still very much a young pup and her drive is more focused on things that move fast, like the NERF Dog Ball Blaster.
Ze, is the puzzle gamer in the house.
He took to the game like a duck to water…
His fastest time on level 1 was just over 30 seconds within the first 3 tries.
His best time on level 2 was just 1:30 within 2 tries.
Teaching puzzle play is not a race, the focus is mental development through stimulation.
And there are no wrong answers.
So, in the beginning, take your time with your German Shepherd. Keep encouraging him or her. It's important that your German Shepherd feels it's worth continuing with the game.
The key here is to help them win. If they don't see reward in the game they will lose interest and check out.
What's in the box?
- The puzzle consists of a black and white base – shaped like a bone.
- 6 Solitaire cones – 3 white and 3 black.
- An instruction booklet with general advice and tips on how to get started.
What's the Quality like?
The entire puzzle is made from heavyweight wood at 1″ (2.5 cm) thick. And 31 x 20 cm, roughly 12″ x 8″ . It's covered in a lacquer which gives it a durable, hard and safe coating.
The size and weight prevents the base from slipping across the floor too easily – which I like.
But it's still light enough to move around which keeps your dog engaged.
German Shepherds are large dogs, with powerful jaws and strong bodies.
And when the game is at it's most exciting the puzzle is flung, pushed, pawed, spun and nibbled.
After 2 hours of play, there are scuff marks which is to be expected. But there are no visible scratches on the Trixie game bone puzzle.
I also love how easy it is to clean. Just a good wipe down with a warm cloth and there's no sign of doggy slobber or treat crumbs.
Although it's sturdy it's easy to pack up. Just lay it flat, pop the cones into their slots and store.
I'm really happy with the quality of this puzzle compared to others we've tried – reviews to come. Especially when you consider the price range.
Trixie Game Bone Puzzle Level 1 and 2: How to Play
The Trixie Game Bone Puzzle is actually 2 games in 1. But you could push it to 3 in 1 by mixing things up. You can easily do this by using the advanced chess side and using the cones from the solitaire to mix things up.
Side one of the puzzle is Solitaire.
It has 6 round slots to drop treats in. And 6 cones that fit snug into the slots to hide the treats.
Now your German Shepherd has the task of using that highly intelligent mind to topple the cones and reach the treat.
Side two is the game of Chess.
It has 4 sliding discs in 2 grooves with 6 round slots for placing treats in.
Drop a treat in a round slot and slide over the disc.
Now it's up to your dog to puzzle his or her way through the problem of getting to the treat.
The instructions that come with the Trixie Game Bone Puzzle are very thorough, so I won't get into them here.
But, there's some essential advice missing…
To make life easier and the game more engaging, it's important to ‘prime' your GSD before the game actually begins.
I think this is important so I'll go into detail here…
And I'll share a video to show you exactly how I do it.
Learn to make an enrichment schedule your dog will love by checking out this article.
How to Prime Your GSD for the Game [With Video]
I prime my dogs whenever I introduce something new into their lives.
- Offering a new toy.
- Teaching a new game.
- Learning a new trick or behavior.
- Meeting a new person – if it's necessary.
It's especially useful for dogs that are skittish or overly cautious – like Charley.
- To prime your German Shepherd to play with the Trixie Game Bone Puzzle lay the puzzle out in front of your dog.
- You want your German Shepherd to move around the toy, checking it out from every angle. So don't worry about asking for a sit-stay behavior. Just let your dog be free to explore.
- Each time your dog looks at the puzzle toss a treat. Don't speak here, just prime your dog with rewards. Do this a few times and then move it up a notch…
- Now treat only when your dog sniffs at the toy. If your dog only looks, don't treat.
- Then move on to only treating your dog when he or she touches the toy with their nose or paw.
- After that, only treat when your dog moves the toy with his or her nose or paw.
While you're priming you'll notice your dog look at you for a treat once he's caught on that you're treating him for a specific action.
At this point you can move onto treating only for the next step in the process.
For example, you'll be raising the criteria from touching the toy with their nose to pawing it.
This priming exercise not only helps your dog be comfortable with the toy. Your dog will quickly learn how to interact with the puzzle.
Once your German Shepherd is primed and interacting with the puzzle it's time for the games to begin!
Here's a video of me priming Ze for the game. You'll notice he's already interested and looking for ways to interact with the Trixie Game Bone Puzzle.
Recently I was woman-down with the flu. But my dogs don't care about me having flu right?
They want to play, interact, and have fun.
The Trixie Game Bone Puzzle and a couple of other fun puzzle games were a lifesaver. For me and them!