Play ‘find the treat’ with your dog

This is the third game in our series of games to play with your dog. An alternative to playing hide-and-seek with Fido is to hide his favourite toy or a tasty treat for him to find. The game is very similar to hide-and-seek, with a few changes.

How to play:

Step 1 – Let him sniff the item.

Step 2 – Hide the item while Fido waits out of sight. Someone can hold him or you can ask him to ‘stay’. To make it easier in the beginning and until he knows what the game is about, you can hide the treat while he is watching, so that it will be easy for him to find it.

Step 3 – Call him to search for the item. You can encourage him with words like ‘search’.

Step 4 – Finding the item will instantly reward him for his efforts. You can slowly increase the difficulty of the game, making sure you end off on a positive note with your dog finding the last item.

The rules:

Before participating in any games, both you and your dog need to understand that all games have rules that should be adhered to. Because pets don’t always understand the human rules, we have to teach them the rules.

Rule 1 – Humans control games and therefore you should start and end the game on your terms. You should initiate the game when you are ready. Set the tone of the game and if it gets too rough, end the game.

Rule 2 – Play with durable toys and not human limbs – teach your pet that your limbs are not prey items.

Rule 3 – The toy belongs to the human. At the end of a game, put the toy away – offer your dog a high-value treat in exchange for the toy and when he drops it, say a word like “drop”. He will eventually respond appropriately to “drop”.

Always end the game on a positive note. This way your dog will look forward to your next play session. Remember that your dog will not always be in the mood to play, especially if he is tired. Respect that and don’t force him into a game when he doesn’t feel like it.