I’m a sucker for a good brain game. If I find something that’ll challenge Loki mentally and enrich her life, I’m all for it.
They can be fabulous boredom breakers for your dog. And usually after a good brain training session, Loki’s ready for a well-earned nap. And that’s only after 15 minutes of playing.
So if you’re looking for ways to control your dog’s energy levels at home, brain games are the way forward.
It was Loki’s birthday a few weeks ago so I splashed out on the Trixie Dog Activity Memory Trainer.
Please note: There are affiliate links in this post. If you click a link and make a purchase I may receive a commission. I’ve bought this product myself and I only give recommendations for items I truly value. This is an honest review.
The Trixie Memory Trainer is essentially a button activated treat dispenser. Every time your dog hits the button, the treats fall out.
Sounds simple enough, but you will need to build on the training through stages before they understand the premise of the game.
Now that Loki understands, she gets super excited whenever we bring it out. I’m convinced she’d go for hours if there were an endless supply of treats! Great to keep them out of trouble and give their brain a good work out.
Here’s the pros and cons I’ve personally found with the game.
Let’s start with the button. As your dog will be pawing or nosing the button, there are a few attachments to hold it in place. A peg for grass if you’re playing outside, a rubber holder or a suction pad for tiled or wooden surfaces.
We generally play indoors, but I have found the suction pad is particularly helpful for our wooden floors. Otherwise it slides across the floor with Loki’s frantic bashing.
You can also move the button further away from the dispenser. So when you’re increasing the difficulty levels, you can place the button in another room to make it more challenging for your pup.
We’ve only tested her as far as the next room, but it does say the game operates up to 40 meters. We have a good-sized garden so I look forward to stretching Loki’s limits!
The treat dispenser can hold a decent amount of treats. You could quite happily use it for their normal meals, that’s if you feed a dry dog food. I don’t suggest using wet varieties for this game.
The rotating reservoir has an adjustable opening to control the volume of treats it dispenses. So if you want to eek the game out, make the opening smaller.
I only have a couple of quibbles with the Trixie Memory Trainer.
My main issue is with the sensitivity of the button. If your dog doesn’t hit it directly and only catches the edge of the button, it won’t work.
I found Loki was getting frustrated initially because she wasn’t being rewarded for performing the right action. She’d end up walking away from it altogether. At that point we’d put it away and try again another day.
Now she’s used to it, her aim is on point. She knows when the button makes a sound she’s hit the right spot and her treats are ready and waiting.
Another minor issue I’ve found is it’s hard to set the right opening on the rotating sphere. There’s a very fine line between the dispenser dropping lots of treats or none at all. Too much and the game’s over too quickly, no treats and they’ll lose interest.
You need to test the opening you’ve set a few times to get the right balance.
Training your dog to use the Trixie Memory Trainer
You’ll find the training steps in the instructions provided. I feel they’re hugely necessary to familiarise your dog with the game. There’s no use putting the dispenser and the button in front of your dog and expect them to play instantly.
They need a little coaching.
Here’s the general gist and the steps we took with Loki:
The button makes a noise when it’s pressed, and you can choose between two sounds. The sound you set acts as a signal to your dog that a treat will follow.
- Put the dispenser aside and use only the button in this exercise. Make sure the button is on. Press the button and give your dog a treat. Repeat this exercise for a few minutes while your dog learns to associate the noise with earning food.
- Now place a treat on the button. If your dog moves towards it, motivate them further by offering a treat. The hardest part for us was getting Loki to press the button herself. Keep encouraging them with treats so they paw or press the button with their snout.
- When they’ve mastered pressing the button, now you can introduce the dispenser. Have your dog press the button. Then place a treat in the tray of the food dispenser.
- Now turn the dispenser on and press the button yourself. Repeat this exercise several times while your dog gets used to the noise it makes.
- Place the button next to the dispenser and get your dog to press the button. It may take some time before they automatically go back to the button without encouragement. So keep encouraging your dog during this phase. It took Loki a few attempts to make the connection. She’d paw at the dispenser or walk around it. I found it helped her if we pointed at the button and used a cue word such as ‘press.’
- When your dog is automatically interacting with the button, slowly make it more challenging by moving the button further away.
Don’t overlook this learning process. It’s important to set your dog up for success and ensure they associate it with something positive and fun.
With Loki, I was a little concerned at first because she would go to her bed and lie down during the second and fifth steps. She can get frustrated if she doesn’t understand. So the key is to take it slow and go at your dog’s pace.
If they’ve had enough, don’t force it. They may come to relate that frustration with the game and refuse to interact with it again. Just put it away and try again tomorrow. They’ll get there!
Overall, we’re very pleased with the memory trainer. It’s great seeing her cogs working, and it’s another way for us to spend quality time together.
At almost £40, I know it’s not for everyone. But for us it’s worth it. Loki’s enrichment activities are important to us and just as valuable as her daily walks. If not more so. It’s a welcome addition to our enrichment toolbelt.
Click here for more information on the Trixie Memory Trainer.
Here’s one of Loki’s play sessions.
Thanks for the review. I’ve been considering one, but wondered about the longevity of the game. Once they learn it, does it become boring to them? Sounds like the learning process is part of it, and then you can make it harder through moving the button. Might have to look into this product!
Loki has used this game hundreds of times, and I can honestly say she is hugely excited every time she sees me bringing it out. I can’t even fill it without her jumping up at my legs! One of the best games we’ve bought by far. As you make it harder and move the button further away it’s still a great learning process as they hunt to find the button. If we put it very far away, I like to smear I tiny bit of peanut butter on the button to help keep her nose on the goal.
I love the brain games for our dogs BUT my problem with Layla is she will not touch anything that is plastic or rubber, I have bought and tried so many things and donated them in the end. I am not sure what it is with her on that one but plush squeaky toys she loves – so if you hear a brain game squeaky toy let me know as I am at a loss. Thanks
That’s so unusual, and such a shame! I’ll have a think because I’m sure there’ll be some out there. I wrote a post recently about DIY brain games and there’s a couple on there that may be suitable for Layla. No plastic or rubber on three of these! You can check those out here http://www.gonedogmad.com/diy-brain-games-for-dogs/
I’m glad that Trixie’s aim has improved, I can see how it would be frustrating to her in the beginning. This looks like a toy my dogs would really like.
Hi Beth, they do seem to be producing a lot of good stuff lately! It was a little challenging to begin with, but now she loves it. I’ve got my eye on the Trixie Mad scientist next. Heard good things about that one too.
This would be a great option for cold winter days when playing fetch and going for long walks just isn’t an option. Thanks for sharing such a thorough review!
Glad you found it useful! Exactly, it’s perfect those snuggly indoor days, and to compliment their daily walks too. We love brain games in our house
Awesome review, always looking for new challenging games for our dog Ginger.
Thanks Debi! This is definitely a good one. I’m sure your Ginger would love it
Loki does look so happy hitting that button! I may need to put the Trixie Memory Trainer on our Amazon Wish List. I could even see using it with one dog in one room to keep them occupied while I work for a bit with the other dog elsewhere. Sometimes separating them for training at home can be a pain, so I’m seeing a potential solution.
Hi Irene. You’re right, this could be a good solution for that. We’re thinking about getting another dog ourselves, and I did wonder how training would work with two dogs. I’m sure this would do the trick to keep one entertained while you focus on the other.
I love that they have attachments to keep it in place. That was my first thought: “Kol is going to rock that thing like a hurricane and just bulldoze it over.” LOL. Looks like a fun toy. I may have to see if I can find one!
Hi Jodi, yep, the attachments are great! So even if you have a big dog it should stay put! They’re easy to find on Amazon. Or feel free to click on the link and it’ll take you straight there Full disclosure, I may receive a small commission from the supplier if you do purchase. Happy playing! I’m sure Kol will love it!