Friday, March 16, 2012

Hide and Seek!

A great game to teach your dog is "hide and seek."  Not only will it give you a few spare seconds without your dog pestering you to play ball, but it makes them use their little brain!  Why is that so important you ask?  The more your dog thinks, the happier and less energy he needs to expend (digging up your newly planted flower bed).  That's right, when your dog has to think in new ways or in ways that are challenging it uses about the same amount of energy as he would going on a walk.  Now he will still need his walks, but lets say it's rainy outside or bitter cold in the winter and a walk is just not going to happen, or  lets say he is just a bundle of energy and he could easily go on 5 walks, let alone one.  Now you have something that will help.

To teach him how to play first find a treat that is really smelly and has a unique smell ( moist liver treats, Greenies, or peanut butter treats work well to start).  Put your dog in a sit/stay or a wait, place the treat in an obvious place, then add the cue; "find treat", or "where's the treat".  As soon as he finds it (and can be eating it) click and he gets another (smaller) treat.  The next time make it a little harder to find, but still pretty easy to find. Click and treat the same way and gradually make it harder.  If your dog ever just gives up, put him back in the wait, or stay and re hide it  making it a little easier.  The next time you start pick back up  to be just a bit easier than the the level of difficulty that you were at the last time.  Always remember to ask for him to find something by name, so "find Timmy", "find ball", or whatever your dog might know the name of.

This game also works well to teach your dog the name of toys.  Clear the room and place the object in a very obvious place and ask him to "find_____"  If he goes up to the toy, click, treat, and repeat!

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