Find It Game!
Children get bitten, scratched and knocked down playing with dogs, especially puppies. This “Find It Game" allows kids to play with dogs while teaching them some obedience.
Teach your dog the "Find It Game" before you ever even teach him obedience. (It’s also good to teach tricks before teaching obedience.)
This game (like any game or trick) teaches your dog to start paying attention to you. It helps set a good foundation, and gets him in the mode of learning. It’s very fun. If your dog likes treats or toys, he will go CRAZY playing this game and your children will go nuts playing this game with him.
Start in the house. Put Fido on a sit-stay. If necessary, have someone hold his leash, or tie him up. (Always supervise tied dogs to prevent tangling and choking and use a harness, never a collar.)
Place a favorite treat or toy 10-15 feet away, in plain sight. Go back, release him and command him to “Find it!” What joy! He’ll be ecstatic. You be, too.
Dogs require repetition when learning new tasks. Don’t rush. Get a good foundation of him waiting on a sit-stay, then charging off for the reward to “Find It.” Dogs also don’t “generalize” well, which means they get confused when cues, situations, or environments change, so keeping him in the same spot each time and placing the reward in the same spot each time will help him develop his drive to find the reward when released.
This is simple and easy, but still… practice at least 20 times. You want him to be deliberate and enthusiastic about taking the reward.
Now move it farther away, but still in sight. Go back, release him and command him to “Find it!” Praise him! He’s such a genius!
Practice, practice, practice…. At least 20 times. You are setting a foundation so you can later make this task harder and still keep his drive and excitement high.
If you have been tying or holding him, now ask him to sit-stay on his own. Since you are making it harder for him, place the reward closer. Start by making him stay only a few seconds and work up to longer and longer stays. If he breaks, scoop up the reward (this is vital!) and try again. As he becomes more reliable, place the reward farther and farther away, but still within his view.
When he is a pro, place the reward in the same room, but out of view, like on the other side of the couch, or just around a partition. Advance to hiding it in other rooms. See why you need him to be reliable before moving on? You will be disappearing. He needs the confidence of knowing that if he stays, he will be released to find it, and he needs the drive to go find the item out of his view. Always train dogs in baby-steps. You can NOT hurt his training by going too slowly, but you CAN hurt it by going too fast. Go slowly and get a good foundation.
Now hide the reward so he has to really work for it. Hide it in a small trash can, under a throw rug or stuffed between two pillows. Cheer him as he searches: “Find it! Hurry up! Find!” (If using treats, you can help him by using stronger smelling foods.) Later, move the game outdoors. Get him to sit-stay around the corner of the house, or behind a tree or car. No peeking! Now that’s challenging and even more fun!
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