The Tube and Treat Game
Dogs and kids…
*A caveat before you read this blog. If you have any issues with your dogs and children always seek the advice of a qualified behaviouroist. This blog is intended to discuss a game that can be of benefit to children and dogs that do not display any issues with one and other.*
So in our latest video we revealed that we are having a second child but the area of the video that I wanted to discuss is our current child and the game that she is playing with our Border Collie Arran.
I heard about this game when I was at the Puppy Conference a few years back when speaker Gemma Abbott was talking about kids and dogs.
Sometimes dogs can find the unpredictable actions of children really difficult to deal with. A way of making it easier for both the child and the dog to have a calm interaction is by using the Tube and Treat game.
The aim of the game is to calmly deliver food to the dog whilst the child is calmly sat down on the sofa.
Here are your steps:
- Have the child sat on sofa with an adult.
- Have the dog on lead (with an adult) in front of child.
- Child has tube over the side of the sofa edge.
- Child puts treat into tube.
- If the dog misses it being delivered. Adult points out to the dog where the treat is.
- Repeat steps 3-5 until treats are finished.
Nice and simple.
Where can you get such a tube I hear you ask? Well the tube in the centre of wrapping paper rolls are a fantastic idea. I was just fortunate enough to be married to a music therapist who had musical instruments call Boom Whackers which ended up being the perfect tool for the job.
By having a long tube greater distance is created between the child’s and the dog which in turn is likely to make less tension in the situation. The tube means the dogs attention is on the end of the tube instead of the hand of the child. Not everyone likes a cold wet nose touching their hand so this game doesn’t just have to be for kids.
The one area which can be difficult at the start is frustration in the dog as they wait for the food to be delivered so I recommend that an adult plays this game with the dog first to show the dog what the tube means, waiting calmly at the end where the food appears, and to increase the amount of time in-between the delivery of food so the dog understands they might have to wait sometimes before the food will appear.
Then its about careful management with both dog and child to make sure that they both get it right. Have one adult managing the dog on a lead and one adult to make sure the child can stay seated and put the treats down the tube.
As the dog and child both get used to the game you can slowly start working your way to one adult supervising the game, only when they are both consistently getting the game right which will probably take several sessions.
For dogs that are fed a kibble diet this can become a great source of predictable bonding between your children and dogs. You don’t want to use sticky treats as they may not fly down the tube as easily as the likes of kibble.
Super Pro Tips from Gemma Abbott of Dogs Bumps Babies & Beyond:
The dog shouldn’t practice making contact with or nudging the tube in anticipation of the treat as this could cause unintentional harm/discomfort. This will promote a ‘safe’ distance.
Only allow the child to have the treat tube when games for bonding are being played. Don’t leave the tube lying around.
Get the child to practice putting the rewards down the tube without the dog present first.
All that is left to say is have fun playing this game and remember small steps for babies and dogs.