It’s pouring rain outside and your dog is going stir crazy. What do you do? Playing the dog game “Find It” with your dog can help improve his attitude and get rid of restlessness. This one game offers both mental and physical exercise for your dog, plus they love it!
Getting Started with your dog game
To teach this game, first decide what kind of treat best motivates your dog. If she will perform for everyday kibble, then great. Otherwise, choose a treat that will motivate well. After the game is well established you can back down to less desirable treats. Just be careful to keep the game fun or they’ll stop playing. Which reminds me – stop playing before they get bored!
First tell your dog “sit”, then offer the treat. Second, tell your dog “wait” and toss the treat a couple feet ahead. Be prepared to catch your dog and put her back into sit and wait because she will might leap after the treat when you toss it. Pick up the tossed treat and start again. Say “Find It!” and encourage her to go get the treat. Give lots of praise when she finds it, then call the dog back to you and repeat. She will soon learn “Find It” as both a release word and a command to hunt. Repeat the “sit”, “wait” and “find it”, throwing the treat a little further each time. Be careful not to throw too far too quickly or they will lose the treat and interest in the game.
Once the game is understood, start throwing the treats out of sight and up stairs. To ramp up the exercise skip the “sit” and “wait” part, especially on stairs. When she lands at the bottom of the stairs immediately throw the treat and tell her “find it” quickly so that she turns and sprints back up the stairs.
Mental exercises are just as important as physical for wearing out your dog. Sometimes the treat will take a crazy bounce so she has to spend some time searching for the treat. Time spent searching is a mental exercise. Purposely hide the treat or throw it where it will be more difficult to find. To vary the routine and further your dogs obedience training alternate between “sit”, “down” and “stand” before releasing them for the treat.
If your dog fetches, you can play this game with a toy, but remember to use treats as well so they get to use their nose. The mental aspect of this game is highly important for developing a calm, well-balanced dog.
The third benefit of this dog game is how it encourages your dog to develop his sense of smell. Using their nose is an excellent mental exercise for them and develops a canine skill that is often underutilized in our culture. Cesar Milan often finds that dogs with issues need to learn how to use their nose more. To help develop their sense of smell, make the treats smaller and smaller. When they develop basic dog instincts, they are much better balanced, as well as more content and less destructive.