Hide-and-Seek: A Fun Game to Play With Your Dog
A Fun, Stimulating Game to Play With Your Dog
It's late at night. My dog, Misha, has decided it's time for bed. I take her outside to do her business. When we come back inside she is ready for her favorite game: hide-and-seek.
Yes, the very same game you played as a child. Wasn't it fun speeding off while the seeker had their eyes closed? You rushed to find your hiding place, giggling the whole way.
It's the same game only different. Let's face it, dogs can't count. With a couple adjustments, a dog can learn how to play.
How to Play the Game With Your Dog
Hide-and-seek is composed of two elements: there is the one who is hiding, and there is the one who is seeking (it's pretty simple, really).
Dogs do best as seeker. Trust me. They tend to roam away or get really excited when they see you leaving, thus, ruining the whole “finding” part of the game. As seeker, a dog can be motivated to find things they love. It may be people, toys, or food. Whatever you choose, give your dog time to figure out the object of the game. Some take a little longer than others.
Here's how you do it:
- Leave your dog in one room. Then, hide.
- Don't pick a place that is too difficult at first. You want to be found.
- Call your dog. Do this in a happy, joy-filled manner. This is supposed to be fun!
- When your dog eventually finds you, make sure it knows how happy you are. Give verbal and treat rewards.
- Repeat a few times until the idea sinks in. After the dog gets the idea, you should be able to eliminate the treats.
What Motivates Your Dog?
There are many ways you can play this game:
- Hide yourself or another family member
- Hide a favorite toy
- Hide a favorite blanket
- Hide treats
My dog does okay with people, but won't even look for her toys. What Misha is motivated by is food. As long as I hide food, she will search for it. Sometimes she even persists long after the game is over.
Variation on the Theme: Use Treats or Toys
At some point, you might get tired of hiding. You can make the game more challenging by hiding a favorite toy or food.
First, secure your dog in a room. If you don't, it will be running right behind you which kind of defeats the purpose. Next, hide the toys or treats in fairly obvious places. It is going to take your dog awhile to get this, so you don't want it to be too difficult. You don't want to end up as seeker. Every time an object is found, lather on the praise.
Once you've played a couple of times, your praise should work as reinforcement. It doesn't take most dogs long to figure out what you want them to do especially if food is involved.
If your dog is good with the sit/stay command, you can adjust the game by putting your dog in command before allowing it to find whatever you've hidden. This doesn't work with my dog. As a Jack Russell, her enthusiasm gets the better of her.
Is your space limited? Do you live in a small apartment where you can't play hide-and-seek? There are toys for that! Misha loves her . I hide a treat under the cups and she has to figure out how to get them out. She really has to put her brain to good use figure out which cup the treats are hidden under. dog treat dispensing puzzle toy
A Way to Say I Love You
Do you play games with your dog?
This Is Our Nighttime Ritual
Sometimes, Misha is a pain in the butt at bedtime. She's feisty and bratty when all I want to do is go to bed. Hide-and-seek seemed a perfect way to burn off some of that energy.
I break up a couple of treats into small pieces. Then, I hide them throughout the house. I have to change my hiding spots periodically because she remembers what I've done the night before. She runs around the house, from room to room, sniffing and searching. It can take her 20 minutes to find everything.
Towards the end, I will help her a bit. I never tell her where it is. Instead, I make a circle motion around the general area. For a dog who doesn't get it when I point directly at something (she usually looks at the end of my finger), she understands this surprisingly well.
After it's over, she wants a neck rub. It's hard work! Then, she lays down and that's it for the night.
Misha Plays Hide-and-Seek
Why Play Games With Your Dog?
Dogs need challenges just like humans. Most dogs need a job to do, some are even bred for it. When that stimulation is absent, they get bored, destructive, and bratty. When we play games like this one, we engage their brains. They enjoy the break in their routine and they love the rewards that go with it.
It is also a good way to burn off energy. The dog walks around for 15-20 minutes engaging many senses. Just watch the nose for the sniffing action! There is a lot going on. Different skills are necessary to play the game. It takes a lot of effort to find stuff. You'd be surprised how tiring it is!
Give the game a try. Modify it for your dog's needs. Your dog gets some activity and you get to sit down for a few minutes and rest.
Misha Hot on the TrailClick thumbnail to view full-size
Another Way to Play
You may live in an apartment or have very limited space. You can still play this game but in a different way:
- Find a couple of small cardboard boxes that you don't care about.
- Put a treat in one box or several.
- Close the box flaps, but don't use tape or anything else your dog might eat.
- Put the box on the ground and let your dog have at it. It may take a while for your dog to figure out there is a treat in the box.
- Depending on how smart it is, it might take some time to figure out how to get it out. You can use other objects like a pillowcase. Just remember that your dog will smash and chew whatever it is, so don't use your favorite stuff.
My previous dog used to love this game. She would work on a cardboard box for several minutes. Sometimes I would make it even more difficult by hiding a box within a box.
Whichever version of the game you choose, your dog is sure to love it. It will provide some busy time, puzzle solving, and activity. Not only is this good to do at bedtime, but it's a great game for a rainy or snowy day. Once your dog has mastered hide-and-seek, try a new game. There are so many that you two can play.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
© 2014 Melody Lassalle