K9 Interactive is K9 Magazine's series offering practical, easy to follow advice on how to ‘do stuff’ with or for your dog.
From learning how to teach your dog some impressive, eye catching tricks to advice on how to get your dog into the media, how to understand canine body language, how to make your dog more alert, how to get fitter with your dog, how to make your dog follow your every move through to guides on how to build a fancy indoor dog kennel, how to make your furniture dog-proof, how to ensure your dog never accosts a house guest ever again and lots more. Coming up in the series we’ve got a whole stack of interactive features which you can implement to benefit your and your dog’s life together starting with the game EVERY dog loves to play…hide and seek!
Canine hide and seek might sound like a bit of a laugh, but it stimulates an integral area of many dogs’ natural instincts such as scent tracking. People lost in avalanches are only too glad that the St Bernard that finds them likes a good game of hide and seek, and now you can bond with your dog indoors or out come rain or shine, in this fun, obedience orientated and stimulating activity.
You’ll need a helper and some doggy treats at the ready for this! Firstly, make sure that your dog is familiar with the stay command, otherwise this will be a very short game and make sure your helper ensures that your dog abides by the rules and stays put while you disappear just out of sight with a delicious doggy treat in your pocket. The great thing about this game is that your dog always gets to win - a huge bonus for dogs that are perhaps a little low in confidence.
When you are sure that your dog is aware you're no longer there, he will probably be bursting to come and get his reward so have your helper let him go. As soon as you hear the sound of paws scrambling across the floor, begin issuing the command you want to use in the future. ‘Come and get me’ is as good as any. Your first hiding place should not be out of sight (in the bin for instance!) this will help him get the hang of the game sooner rather than later. If you plan to play this game a lot - make sure the treat you use is healthy! You will always be found and will always have to issue the treat, so avoid turning your winning hound into a ‘roly poly’ by keeping certain treats for a spectacular performance.
When you feel the nudge of an excited nose on your face (or the whip of wagging tail, depending on your position) be sure to issue lots of praise reinforcing the fact this is fun for both of you. You can extend the game a little at this stage by hiding the prize, in a pocket for example, rather than relinquishing it on sight of your pursuer giving them the chance to find. A squeaky toy tucked up the trouser leg can result in prolonged hilarity as your dog desperately tries to get to it.
Return to the beginning of the process, but ensure that you hide further away and a little more hidden and out of sight. Again, you will need your trusty helper to make sure your dog stays put until told otherwise as you are now going to make your dog wait a painstaking two minutes before he is let go. Issue the command you've chosen before he is released this time, but ensure your helper prevents any false starts (pretty common!). See how determined your dog is by hiding under a duvet. If he merely paws at you, you need to put in more work. You want your dog to be practically dragging these obstacles away from his reward for finding you.
Again return to step one, but ask your helper to stay a distance away from your dog and only intervening if the cheating mongrel tries to get a sneaky peak at you before you are properly concealed in your hiding position. Make sure every time you play this you challenge your dog with some new twist, such as a new hiding place for example, otherwise it could become slightly like going through the motions for him and won't stay as fresh. Of course your canine pal wouldn't tell you this - he will will want his treat regardless. Test his loyalty by breaking a doggy biscuit in half and hiding one piece on his route to finding you and keeping the other piece on your person. If you hear a sequence of ‘gallop, gallop, munch’ sounds, you will know were his priorities lie.
Incorporate obstacles into the game and encourage your dog to use his initiative. Also, moving the goal posts will keep your dog stay active and engaged throughout. When the weather allows, hide outside and leave him work out where you have gone. Try challenging your dog’s obedience by extending the amount of time he has to stay before he is allowed to come and find you.
Continue the game for as long as it is fun for both you and your dog, but make it interesting by introducing new challenges and obstacles each time you play. Remember to praise your dog each and every time he finds you, this will avoid him associating the game with merely receiving a treat. For those of you who believe they have a little dog genius on their hands, try playing this game the other way round and see who comes out on top!