San Diego CoyotesFinding ways to exercise and entertain your canine companion can be quite challenging especially on rainy days. Playing hide and seek with your dog or puppy can help with those rainy day blues and at the same time reinforce your obedience commands like sit, down, come and even help to teach your dog everyone’s name in the home.

Training your dog to play hide and seek.

Dogs tend to learn this game quickly if only two people are involved in the beginning. Each person should have a baggie of small treats that your dog really likes and can eat quickly and easily.

To start the game, as an example, we’ll use Mommy and Billy as they players. Mommy holds the dog with her at one end of a hallway or living room and Billy is at the other end. Mommy asks the dog to sit, gives him a treat and then asks the dog where Billy is: “Where’s Billy?” At that point, Billy calls the dog and encourages him to come: “Rover Come” (Hint: the dog still may be poking at the first person for treats/attn…try not to look at the dog and hide the treats behind your back so that the second person is more enticing) You may have to help it with a second prompt. “Where’s Billy?” and the second person calling “Rover Come”. If the dog is having a difficult time leaving the first person, start out a little closer to each other in the beginning. When the dog starts to come to the second person, the second person continues to call him, gives lots of praise and has the dog sit when he arrives for his treat. Help the dog sit if he is too excited to sit on his own. Adding the sit (or later a down) at the end of this drill will encourage the dog to sit after they run to you and help to prevent excited dogs or puppies from jumping up on you. Billy then asks the dog “Where’s Mommy” and Mommy calls Rover back to her.

Alternate back and forth three or four times until you can see the dog starting to anticipate the cues of the game. “Where’s Mommy” “Rover Come” “Good boy, sit, good boy…Where’s Billy?” “Rover Come, Good boy, sit, good boy…Where’s Mommy?”

Now here comes the really fun part! After you have sent the dog off to find the other person, you can sneak off to just inside a hall doorway or around a corner and wait for the dog to be sent back to you. Remember that you will still need to help the dog by calling for it in the beginning. Keep it easy as you add this step so your dog is able to succeed and get rewarded for finding you. Your dog may just go straight back to where you were originally and need a second or two to find your new hiding place. Remember to use lots of praise, ask for the sit, give treats and make it a big deal that they found you. Now when you send the dog off to find the other person, they’ve hidden themselves too! When they get the dog to them, you hide again…and so on.

As the dog gets more proficient at the game, you can hide in more difficult areas of the house including up and down stairs. You can also fade away the “Rover Come” prompt once the dog really knows your names. Pretty soon, you’ll find that you can come home and ask your dog where a particular person is in the house and they will take you right to them. If your dog has a strong sit stay or down stay, you can actually play this game with just one person. Have your dog stay in one room and then say okay and call it once to find you hiding in another room.

Keep the game short and rewarding and you’ll have as much fun as your dog!