Playing new and rewarding games with your dog keeps them active mentally and physically. A dog that is learning and working is a real Happy Hound!
1. Hide & Seek
You can hide in another room, behind a door, under the table, or in the shower, without your dog seeing where you’ve gone. Then call your dog’s name a few seconds apart as they search the house for you. Once they have found you reward them with great praise or yummy treats to keep it fun!
Some dogs may need a little help when you first start, and you may need to make the hiding easy for them so they will keep seeking. For them, when they find you it’s very self-rewarding, builds their recall, and helps with name recognition.
2. Which Hand?
Show your dog that both of your hands are empty. Grab a treat and place your hands behind your back switching the treat around. Place both hands in a fist in front of your dog and ask them to pick one. They will choose by pawing, nosing, or licking one. Once they do that open your hand and show either your empty hand or the treat. If they choose the treat, they receive it for a reward, if not switch hands behind your back again and try again.
This may take time and patience as they learn the game. If they become visibly frustrated stop and offer a cue they know and reward them to keep their confidence and interest up. If your dog gets overly mouthy or is overusing their paws to claw at you stop the game. Only begin again once they are calm to help with impulse control and over-excitement.
3. Toss & Recall
Prep with a handful of small treats and find an open space to work in. Have your dog sit in front of you and toss a treat about 5 feet from you. When they turn to chase it call their name or if they know the ‘come’ command use that also. Once they begin to move towards you reward them with a treat. This is a great way to work on recall in-home and build their confidence. If they are too focused on the treat you have tossed, stop and work on the leave-it cue before continuing the toss game.
4. Three Cups
Place 3 cups; preferably not see-through, in a line and show your dog you are placing a treat under one of them. Move them around only a few times at first to make it simpler as they are learning. Ask them to choose one, you turn over the first cup they choose and show either no reward or their winnings. If they are catching on easily, make more moves. If they aren’t catching on don’t worry, they may take some time. Keep engaged with them and encourage them by tapping a cup and asking them to pick. If they become frustrated stop and offer a cue they know and reward them to keep their confidence and interest up.
5. Treats or Toys Search
Hide their favorite treats or toys around and have them seek them out. Start with just the room you are in and hide them in visible sight to begin. Have them sit and stay or wait until you have placed them around and then tell them to go seek. As they have more and more success hide them under or behind objects or move into other rooms. Be sure to keep track of how many items you hide so that they find them all!