Recreational treats and ball dispensers for dogs

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Recreational treats and ball dispensers for dogs

Intelligence and patience game

Do not worry. Even with “two left hands” you can recreate the “Surprising Tubes” in next to no time. Depending on your skill, you have to reckon with only 30 to 60 minutes of construction time. The idea for this came from dog trainer Anja Jakob, who in her dog school specializes in games, sports and fun for dogs with brains. “There are now many intelligence games to buy in well-stocked pet shops, but most of them are really expensive, and the smarter the dogs, the faster they can see through the respective mechanism,” she says.

But since her customers were very interested in “brain jogging” for dogs, she thought about how to build your own game more cheaply, that is easy to replicate and that dogs and humans can enjoy for a long time. “I wanted to build something with a tilting mechanism and was looking for a frame for it. And then my eyes fell on my bottle rack in the kitchen,” she reports.

The principle is very simple for us two-legged friends, but it still requires a lot of logical thinking from the dog to see through it. Plastic tubes closed at one end are fitted with a rotating mechanism, anchored in a frame and then filled with a treat. Hard, round treats that roll well are best. In order for the dog to enjoy it, he has to hold the pipe down with his paw or snout until it rolls out.

That was also the first cliff for test dog Mogli, the six-year-old mixed breed male of the dog trainer, although he already has experience with such games. When he heard that the treat began to roll in the tube, he let go of the tube and the reward slid back noisily. After further testing, however, he found that he had to hold the pipe a little longer and that it was also worth walking around as there is something hidden in all the pipes. Her nine-month-old border collie Merlin first tried the “Hau drauf” variant, and it took a while before he realized that with a little more calm he would get there faster.

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Since treats are not so important to him, his mistress hid toys in the “surprise tubes”. “If this is his favorite ball, however, he still gets impatient quickly,” says his owner. “For him it is therefore not only a question of intelligence – but also a game of patience.” (Text: Saskia Brixner)

Tips for use

Dogs that have no experience with intelligence games need a little help and encouragement from their humans so that they don’t lose interest and give up too quickly. Many of the games bought are therefore often unused in the corner. So don’t leave him alone with his task. The aim is also to have fun together with the dog. On the other hand, you shouldn’t help too much, after all, the device should make him think. Dogs that already have experience with intelligence games are of course allowed to try out how to get there without help.

In the beginning, reward every first cautious interest verbally, with a treat, with a little game or by triggering the mechanism with your hand. Then help less and less and let the dog try it out for itself. If the dog tries to succeed by nibbling on the toy, end the game, for example by briefly picking up the tubes. Then praise him when he tries again. With clicker-experienced four-legged friends, reward every action in the right direction with a click and a treat from your hand until he has understood the mechanism. Stop when it is most beautiful and the dog is still actively interested. Some dogs lose lust after one, others only after ten minutes. If so, it is best to place the game high up or in another room so that it cannot operate alone. It is better to train more often a day or a week in very short units than once in a long unit. If a dog is anxious or cautious, give it time. Sometimes it helps to put something particularly delicious at the very front of the pipe and hold it very still so that he loses his shyness.

Variation options

Once the dog has understood the principle, you can make the whole thing more difficult by closing the pipes with a ball on the rope or a fur dummy, such as is available for retriever work. Pressing it down alone is no longer enough, it must first clear the “blockage” and clear the pipe in order to get the reward. Even a filled cone, a treat wrapped in wrapping paper or hidden in a toilet roll or kitchen paper roll squeezed at the ends, or an old pair of socks that he has to pull out with his teeth, always offer new surprise experiences, also in a joint Dragging play can end. You can also corner the tubes at the top so that the opening is facing up and remove the cap at the other end. Now you can teach your four-legged friend to put a ball in at the top, which then rolls out again at the bottom. Since the tubes have to be filled from two sides, two dogs that get along well and are not jealous of food can work on them at the same time. So they not only learn while watching, most dogs also have a lot of fun to be faster or more skillful than their dog buddies. “Sometimes the four-legged friends unintentionally work together as a team. While one is operating the mechanism, the other is faster at catching the tumbling treat. The other then literally looks into the pipe has successfully operated, give a treat separately, and refill the tubes very quickly, “advises the expert.

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The building instructions

The material (around € 16.00)

  • 1 IKEA bottle rack “Hutten”
  • 2 drainage pipes, 60cm long with 50mm diameter
  • 1 drainage pipe, 60cm long with 75mm diameter
  • 2 drainage pipe plugs with 50mm diameter
  • 1 drain pipe plug with 75mm diameter
  • 1 beechwood rod, 26cm long with 8mm diameter
  • 8 hexagon nuts with M10 thread
  • 1 wooden board, 35cm x 45cm and at least 15mm thick (leftovers are often free of charge when cutting wood in the hardware store. If you want to use the game outdoors, you should use impregnated wood (non-toxic!)


  • 1 small drill or cordless drill (5mm and 8mm)
  • 1 small saw
  • 1 folding rule
  • 1 piece of chalk
  • Emery paper

That’s how it’s done

  • Saw the cross braces out of the middle shelf of the flat shelf – the one with the wooden pins on the side parts.
  • Sand any sharp edges that may be present on the two remaining side parts of the shelf and drill an 8mm hole for the beechwood rod in the middle between the two middle (former cross braces) on both side parts. It is easier if you pre-drill with a 5mm drill.
  • Saw off a 26 cm long piece of beech wood and then drill two 8 mm holes through the middle of the drainage pipes (measured at approx. 28 cm from the open side of the pipes). They should be offset to the side so that larger treats can slide through easily. Now connect all parts with the beechwood rod and insert the hexagon nuts between them as a separator.
  • Now assemble the bottle shelf according to the IKEA instructions. In the middle comes the part with the tubes plugged together with the hexagon nuts on the beech wood stick. One nut each comes on the left and one on the right and three each between the pipes.
  • In order to give the device more stability so that the dogs cannot tilt it with their paws, it is advisable to attach a base plate under the device. To do this, drill four 13mm deep holes with a diameter of 8mm and then connect the shelf with the help of the wooden pins included in the “Hutten” kit. The corresponding holes in the shelf are already there.
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    Tip: If you have the additional wooden board cut to size at the hardware store and ask nicely, the employee will, with a bit of luck, saw the cross braces out of the “Hutten” shelf with the machine. This will save you a lot of work at home.

    The expert

    Anja Jakob offers Click’n Trick in her dog school as well as workshops and seminars on all aspects of games, sports and fun nationwide by invitation. For example, on the subject of thinking and sniffing games, in which this intelligence game is also used.


    Anja Jakob

    86899 Landsberg am Lech

    Tel. 0049 (0) 177 15 66 567

    [email protected]