You know that feeling you get when you find something you lost ages ago or when you manage to find a $20 bill in your winter coat? No matter what you call that feeling, it’s an intoxicating high. Experts have dubbed that feeling the “eureka feeling”, and it’s come into question if dogs are capable of having it, too.
What’s the Canine Version of the Eureka Feeling?
Dogs definitely misplace their toys or bones, and while they’re insanely happy when they come across their long-lost ball, it doesn’t necessarily indicate they’re having the euphoria you have when you finally find your favorite pair of pants after months of searching.
In regards to dogs, experts doing the research define the “eureka feeling” as a dog getting a reward after solving a problem. Experts wondered whether the dogs enjoy the act of solving a problem or if they only like getting a treat. Research performed by University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden (http://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2014/06/do-dogs-get-eureka-feeling.html) showed that dogs who solved a problem and got a reward afterward seemed happier (i.e. more tail wagging) than dogs who just got a reward for no reason.
Triggering ‘Eureka’ in Your Dog
Exposing your dog to problem-solving not only makes them happier (according to research), it also stimulates them and reduces boredom-based behaviors (vocalizations, destroying property, hyperactivity, etc). Try giving your dog some games to play and reward them when they succeed. These activities are especially helpful for dog breeds that are bred to do a job, like herding and hound dogs, but you don’t own a flock of sheep or go hunting every afternoon. These games aren’t just fun for your dog, either. You’ll find these activities are quite entertaining for you, too!
Hide and Seek
Dogs love to play hide and seek! There’s a double reward at the end, too: finding the thing they love most in the world (you) and getting a tasty treat. This definitely works better if your dog has a solid sit/stay/come command. Position your dog somewhere in the house, tell them to sit and stay, and then dash off to hide. Try not to pick a spot that is too challenging; behind a door or crouching next to the bed are enough to make your dog think. If you have a working breed that’s bred to use their nose, you can get a bit more creative, but don’t hide in places that would really challenge a person.
Once you’ve hidden, give your dog a whistle and wait for them to find you. I recommend finding a place where you can watch them zoom through the house trying to find you (it’s really comical). I’m not sure who gets the better reward at the end: you or the dog. It’s hard to beat the joy your dog exhibits when they find you!
You can also take a bunch of empty boxes and scatter them around the room and put treats in a couple of the boxes. Once they catch on, you can loosely close the boxes and let your dog learn how to open them up for an extra challenge.
You can purchase puzzle games that will keep your dog entertained for hours as they try to get the treat tucked inside, but you can make your own. Keep it simple with two or three cups and hide a treat underneath one of them. Do you have a muffin tin? Put a few treats in the bottom of the pan and then cover every hole with a ball. Give the entire tray to your pup and let them paw the balls out until they find all of the hidden goodies.
Laser-Guided Treat Stash
This is a fun game to play in the summer when the nights are still warm. It will only work if your dog goes crazy for lasers, however. You could theoretically do this with your cat, but they’re less treat-driven than dogs are. Keep your dog in the house and go out in the back yard and hide treats in easy-to-find locations. When you’re ready, bring your dog out and get them excited over the laser. Use the laser pointer to guide them towards the treats. It’s great exercise and hysterical to watch. This is a kinder game than just using the laser with no reward at the end. Whatever you do, though, don’t ever point it directly in your dog’s eyes.
Engaging your dog’s problem-solving skills exercises them physically and intellectually. Dogs are certainly happy no matter what you do with them, but giving them something to actively participate in infinitely boosts their “dog joy”.
Hi, I’m Jacob. I’ve been a professional blogger for over 6 years and in that time I’ve written countless blogs that have reached millions of people. I am a DVM by profession but all you need to know is that I LOVE DOGS!
SDO started way back in 2015 on a whim. I’d read a couple of dozen blogs online while searching for the best products for my pup and the amount of misinformation online from unqualified sources giving potentially harmful advice shocked me. Then suddenly it hit me, hey, I can do this too! And I can do this RIGHT! Without even knowing what a blog was or how it makes money. I jumped right in to share the years of knowledge I have of dogs with the world.
Within a few months I realized that people were reacting extremely positively to my blogs. My website had taken off and I would receive countless emails from happy dog owners telling me how my website was a God-send for them and their pups were doing so much better after they followed my advice. I would get so many questions as well, and in my attempt to consolidate and answer all the questions I would get from my readers, my blog has evolved to the website you see today. Over the years I encouraged my good friend Tina who is also a DVM to share her experiences and better guide the people who read us. By the Grace of God we now reach close a million people a year and we get such a warm feedback on how we have made life easier for new dog owners all over the globe.
As a dog owner only you would know the feeling you get when you come home at night and you pup is there at the door wagging their tail in sheer joy. The bond a person and their dog share can not be explained in mere words. Yet dogs are like children, and they need to be cared for and trained, and that’s why Smart Dog Owner exists, to give you the precise and exact information that you seek about your dog. No matter how minute that detail is, chances are we will be there to help you out! As someone who has raised 7 of her own dogs. Jacob will always help you out.