Keeping your dog mentally stimulated and enriched is just as important as exercise. So while you may not know the Muffin Man, you should probably get acquainted with the muffin tin game. All the game requires is a muffin tin, a dozen treats, and some tennis balls (or other tennis ball-sized toys) to get started. Setup is also simple — you just deposit a treat in each cup of the muffin tin, cover it with the ball or toy, and wait for your dog to sniff it out. POPSUGAR spoke to expert dog behaviorist and Dog Masters host Laura Nativo to get the scoop on why pups find the muffin tin game so engaging.
What Are the Benefits of the Muffin Tin Game?
According to Nativo, mental enrichment is just as important as physical exercise to a dog's overall well-being, and the muffin tin game does an excellent job of keeping your pup stimulated. "Your dog will need to use their nose to locate the treats, their mouth (or paw) to remove the balls, their eyes to spot the remaining toys, and their brain to focus on the remaining treats, since all of the muffin tins will retain the scent of the food," Nativo explains. "This game appeals to your dog's natural instinct to sniff, hunt, and explore the world around them." Since the game is low-impact, it's perfect for dogs of all ages, sizes, and physical abilities.
What Skills Does the Muffin Tin Game Enhance?
All dog owners have a responsibility to provide a healthy outlet for their pet's mental energy, as well as to engage them in activities that support their natural instincts in a safe way. Canine enrichment games, such as the muffin tin game, allow dogs to exert their energy, learn problem-solving skills, and increase their confidence. As Nativo points out, "We already know how important it is to give our human children safe activities, make education fun, and motivate them to participate in fun, creative hobbies. Why shouldn't our beloved family dogs enjoy the benefits of a game that helps make their day a lot more fun and satisfying?"
What Should Owners Know Before Trying Out the Muffin Tin Game?
To get your dog acquainted with the game, Nativo suggests allowing your pup to first eat some treats out of the tin before disguising those treats beneath toys. Next, try using lightweight objects to cover the food, such as muffin cup paper. Gradually, you can increase the weight of objects to give your pup more of a challenge. Though the muffin tin game is a wonderful beginner enrichment activity, owners should still keep a good eye on their pup while they're still familiarizing themselves with the game. "Be extra cautious if they are a puppy, still learning appropriate chew habits, or a dog who struggles with excessive chewing or resource-guarding tendencies," Nativo says. Once you feel confident in your dog's ability to play safely, just be sure there are no loose, easy-to-break, or tiny pieces involved that your dog may accidentally swallow.
Check out the gallery to see just how wild puppers go for this fun game.