On the 17th of March it is St. Patrick's Day, Ireland's national holiday. With this comes the color green and the national symbol: the "shamrock", a clover. We would like you and your pet to join us in celebrating this day with our fleece clover toy. Officially, the national symbol is a three-leaf clover. We have turned it into a four-leaf clover so that you and your dog can play fun games and secretly learn a lot of new things: steering ahead, fetching and searching. For your cat, especially the sniffing game is very suitable. We hope that you can work with this extensive manual. Enjoy!
What you need
To make the clover toy you will need three things: a clover pattern, green fleece fabric and scissors. You can make the toy as big as your dog or cat needs, and of course choose other colors if you want.
How to make the clover toy
Use our clover pattern as a template or find one on the internet. You can print out the template, enlarge it if you wish, and cut it out. Lay your template on a piece of fleece fabric to cut out the clover shape. If you are a little handy, you can also draw a cloverleaf on the fabric with a marker and cut it out. Cut out several clover shapes and place them on top of each other, slightly staggering the leaves. We use two larger cloverleaves with a smaller cloverleaf on top. Using scissors, carefully cut two holes through all the layers of fabric. Thread a loose strip of fleece through these holes to tie the layers together. Your clover is ready!
Before you start playing
Let your dog or cat only play with the clover toy under supervision and do not leave it alone. Playing with the clover is something you do together! Prevent your animal from breaking the toy and don't let multiple animals play with the clover at the same time, as this can lead to unintentional competition and fights. Always make sure that it remains fun and safe for everyone!
Game tip 1: on your clover!
You can teach your dog to sit on the clover. To do this, lay the clover toy on the ground. Hold a treat in front of your dog's nose, lead him to the clover and, when he’s on the clover, make him sit by holding your hand with the treat in it slightly up. Name and reward what he does: good boy, that's 'on your clover'! Practice this a few times. You need to get the hang of leading your animal so that he sits exactly in the middle of the clover, and your dog needs to establish the link that sitting on the clover brings a treat.
Did you know that you can use our Train & Care reward tube with reward cream very well for this exercise? By having your dog follow the tube with his nose, you can easily lead and direct him!
A little further
Is 'sitting on your clover' going well? You can increase the distance to the clover toy by taking a small step back each time. Now you can send the dog to his clover over an even bigger distance. Or make two or more clover toys, place them on the ground at some distance from each other and send your dog from clover to clover!
Game tip 2: plucking clover
You can also teach your dog to pick up the clover toy. Move the toy back and forth in front of your dog's nose to pique his interest and then drop it on the ground. Chances are he will then grab it and pick it up! Then you can start bartering: as soon as your dog has hold of the clover, you hold something good in front of his nose. Does your dog let go of the clover before that? Catch the clover with one hand and give the treat directly with your other hand. Does your dog want to run away with the clover? Start by playing this game on the leash first. After practicing a few times, you can link a fun signal to picking it up: "pick your clover!".
A little higher
Does your dog 'pick' the clover from the ground for you with pleasure? You can start with hiding the toy, so that your dog has to look for it first before he can bring it back and hand it over. Start easy by first showing your animal where you’re hiding the clover. You can make the search extra challenging by hiding the toy in a higher place, for example by hanging it in a bush or on a fence. Make sure that the dog can reach it without getting injured, of course!
Game tip 3: sniffing clover
Because of the multiple layers of fabric, the clover is also very suitable for a sniffing game. To do this, hide some chunks, which can just be part of the daily meal, between the 'leaves' of the clover. Does your animal wait quietly while you fill the clover puzzle with treats? Reward him for it, because that self-control is super clever!
Something more difficult
Step by step, make the search for the treats a little more difficult. You can start very simply by first just putting some kibble on the clover, and later on hide them between the layers of fabric. If you make the game too difficult at first, causing your dog or cat to fail to find the kibble quickly, it can lead to frustration that will cause your animal to drop out or try to demolish the toy. Is the search going well? You can increase the difficulty by folding or rolling up the cloverleafs with treats.
Hear, see and smell
Can you hear the dog in the video sniffing? Dogs love to use their noses like that! If you look closely, you can see that the dog is sniffing over a chunk on the light green fleece: the sniffing is just as much fun for him as the treat!