- Have your dog search for hides with increasing difficulty.
- Gradually expand the search area.
- Increase their drive and focus on the task.
Supplies You’ll Need:
- Strong-smelling treats your dog will love. I’ve had success with salmon jerky, gorgonzola cheese, and baked liver.
- A room with space to move. You’ll want to gradually increase the search area so an unfinished basement or large room is a good location.
- Small household objects and furniture to place on the floor.
- Move your dog to a room other than the one where you’ll be setting up the game. If your dog has separation anxiety and wouldn’t tolerate this well, try putting a baby gate across the door to keep him from interfering with your set up. You’ll just have to be trickier when it’s time to hide the treats.
- If you have multiple pets, you’ll want to work one dog at a time. Find a secure place for your other pets while each dog is working.
- “Decorate” the floor with common household objects–laundry baskets, blankets, stepladders, chairs–whatever you have around.
- Hide treats near or in the obstacles in the room.
- If your dog is watching you set up from behind a baby gate, “fake hide” treats and move around as if you’re hiding treats even when you aren’t.
Playing the Game:
By now your dog should understand you want her to find the treats when you give the cue. If she does not, go back to an earlier lesson.
- Bring your dog to the entry way of the area where she’ll search.
- Hold her gently by the collar before turning her loose to sniff the treat.
- Tell your dog to “find it” and step back.
- As with previous weeks, if your dog looks to you for help, show her your empty hands and she should go back to searching.
- Praise your dog when she finds and eats the hidden treats.
- For the next set up, hide the treat in a different spot while your dog is outside the room. Repeat the find about 3 or 4 times. You want to be sure to end the game while your dog is still having fun. You can allow turns for other dogs in your house or clean up until the next time.
Set aside time throughout the week to practice. Continue to work in a fairly small space with different household items as your dog learns the game. Make sure you don’t hide in the same place every time.
Things You May See From Your Dog This Week
Your dog should be using his nose first and not relying on the boxes or containers you started with. You may see
- More excitement to start the search.
- Greater confidence in searching.
- Greater speed in finding the treat.
- A greater ability to follow a scent trail.
Everything going great? Find the instructions for week 5 here.