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I’m taking a class on Dog Emotion and Cognition through Coursera. It suggested a game to play with your dog called The Hopeless Task.

You put a treat in a closed container. Put the container in front of the dog. Stand behind the dog. And see how long it takes him/her to figure out it’s a hopeless task and turn to you for help.

First time with Kalli, ran into a small problem. She saw the treat going in and was very interested. I put down the container. She didn’t budge. Stopwatch ticks away. Why isn’t she even poking at it?


She’s been taught not to touch things until I say “take it” and I hadn’t said the magic words.
Restart the stopwatch and say “take it.” She turns to me in seven seconds.

I thought maybe that wasn’t a good test because of the false start over “take it,” so waited a few hours and retested. Five seconds.

I’m thinking that by now she knows she gets a treat after she turns to me, so I wait a few days to let her forget. Three seconds.

So I wait a week. Tried it again this afternoon. She doesn’t even look at the container. As soon as it’s on the floor and I say “take it” she turns to me. One second.

I snapped the pic, with the blue-topped container as she continued to look at me.

I’m not at all convinced that she knows it’s a hopeless task. But she sure as heck knows that if she turns to me she gets the treat.

kalli collie dog