Defining the problem is the first step in problem solving. I took the problem which was, a dog, cat and mouse getting across a river on a raft and only one animal and myself are allowed on the raft at one time. The kicker was that the cat and dog cannot be left alone together, the mouse and cat either. Knowing the problem at hand, is the first step in solving the problem.
After discovering the problem, I thought of some strategies in which I could quickly and correctly find the answer to the problem. This was my first mistake. I tried every easy and fast way just to do it. Not only did I not figure it out, I also wasted time. I took a second look at the problem and tried another strategy process of elimination. This is when you try every possible combination one by one and search for a reverse pattern. My final strategy was to ask my fiance too look if I was just missing something. I even called a friend and told him the problem!
The obvious obstacles in the problem were, that the cat and dog could not be left alone together and neither could the cat and mouse. Other than the two above obstacles, the only other obstacle was getting to think outside of the box. Use both sides of the river bank, like in a two step equation in math.
In the end the thought process which brought me to the solution came after about 15 to 20 minutes. It is impossible to do it without using both sides of the river bank as equal ground. Hold one somewhere for the time being to get all others across that can get along. I isolated the cat and kept the cat with me at all times in a way. I solved it by taking the cat first, then getting the mouse across I also take the cat with me and bring the cat back to the first side of the river. I then leave the cat alone and take the dog to the safe side with mouse, which works. I come one last time to the original side and get the cat finishing the problem.