Teach Your Dog to Play Find It

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Teach Your Dog to Play Find ItIf you’re looking for a fun and easy way to entertain your dog on a cold winter afternoon, why not teach your dog to play Find It? Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and they love to use their noses to hunt and track things, especially yummy things! We humans use sight as our primary sense, but dogs primarily rely on their sense of smell to explore the world around them, which is why this is a very exciting game for dogs. By simply hiding a few treats around a room, your dog will learn to track the treats using his spectacular sense of smell and he’ll work off some of that excess energy in the process. Here’s how it works!

Teaching Your Dog to Play Find It

Have someone hold your dog while you show him a tasty treat in your hand.
Allow your dog to watch while you hide the treat somewhere close by.
Give the “Find It” command as your assistant releases the dog.
Praise your dog when he finds the treat.
(Repeat the steps above several times, then proceed)

Have your dog wait in another room while you hide a few treats around the room.
Hide the treats where your dog can easily find them.
Call your dog into the room and give him the “Find It” command.
While your dog is learning, you may have to help him along by pointing to the general area of a treat while repeating the command.
Praise your dog each time he finds a treat and give the command again to let him know there are more treats hiding in the room.
After the last treat is found, tell him “All Gone” and leave the room to let him know the game is over.

Some dogs, such as scent hounds, master this game right away, but almost all dogs will pick up on the concept fairly quickly. Once your dog understands that “Find It” means to start looking around for hidden treats, you can challenge your dog to become a master Find It gamer by using the tips below.

Tips to Help Your Dog Become a Master Find It Player

  • Play the game when your dog’s hungry to help motivate him even more.
  • Hide treats in different locations each time you play the game.
  • Hide treats in different rooms of the house or play the game outside.
  • Play the game with different types of treats.
  • Gradually make the hiding places more challenging.
  • Be sneaky, put treats inside of items and up higher.
  • If a treat is placed out of reach, make your dog sit once he locates it with his nose, then hand the treat to him.
  • Avoid giving hints if your dog looks at you for a clue. Trust me, they will try to recruit you to help find the difficult treats.
  • Bonus Tip! By making your dog wait in another room, then calling him in, you’re also reinforcing the Stay and Come commands.
This is one of Haley’s favorite games and it’s also fun for me to find challenging hiding spots and watch her search for the treats. She always starts off searching with her nose, making lots of noise as she sucks in additional air to try to locate the treats. If she’s unable to find it by scent alone, she switches to using her sense of sight and her nose becomes quiet as she starts looking for it with her eyes. As a last resort, she’ll use her brain to remember where treats had been hidden in the past in a particular room. It’s interesting to watch her different senses in action and it’s funny how she always performs one last scan of the room after I’ve told her “All Gone”, just in case.

Once your dog catches on to this intriguing game, you can build upon it by teaching him to find objects or toys, which is something I’ve been wanting to do with Haley.

So, the next time your dog begs for a treat, make him work off a few calories and have some fun in the process, teach your dog to play Find It! And don’t forget to share some tips with us if you’ve trained your dog to find toys or other objects. Are smelly socks the best object to start with?

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18 Comments on “Teach Your Dog to Play Find It”

    • This is one of the most favorite games around here. We play in the front yard after dinner with their ‘dessert’. They burn off more calories running around the yard than they eat with the treats.

      • That’s great, they definitely can burn off more calories outside than in a room. Haley hardly ever gets a freebie treat because I believe she enjoys them more when she has to work for them.

    • That looks like a blast and Haley looks like she is really good at it! Like JoAnn our hunting dogs do that in the field. We use “hunt it up” to let them know to hunt. Thanks so much for joining the hop. 🙂

    • We do it a little differently, but this is Luke’s absolute favorite game, and he’s so good at it. I keep him in another room while I hide the treat, and as you said, it’s a great way to reinforce his “go to your bed” and “stay” commands.
      Surprisingly, his beagle sister isn’t as good at it as he is. But Cricket doesn’t see why she has to work for treats…LOL. She actually might do better at it if I hide her ball, which I hadn’t even thought of!
      We used boxes to hide treats in starting out, but the way you do it gives me a new way to try with our golden, who was afraid of the boxes.

      • Maybe Cricket is pretty darn smart, thinking she shouldn’t have to work for treats. I wonder if she’s more toy motivated and would like hunting for her ball. You’ll have to try that and let us know. They’re funny, how they each have their own preferences.

    • This is Cooper’s absolute favorite game! He loves to play it with his toys, and I’m constantly amazed… I think I’ve found a Super Hard Hiding Spot, and he gets it every time! Within seconds!

      • Cooper sounds like a pro, he must have a pretty amazing sense of smell! It’s fun trying to find creative hiding spots, isn’t it?

    • I am in no way advocating the use of marijuana not that I’m against it but I digress. My brother started playing find it with his American bulldog. Eventually when the dog got good at the game he would put little buds next to the treat. The dog did not eat the weed and was supervised to ensure this. He went straight for the treats but eventually the treats were omitted and the dog was trained to detect the scent of marijuana. My brother used to joke that it would be useful when he was driving in the country and caught a hint of somebody’s crop in the air. Never did find a use for this skill.

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