We have all played hide and seek as kids, right? It is a simple and fun game. But do you know you can play it with your puppy as well? It is a fun game you can incorporate into your training. Now I know this might sound crazy, but hide and seek will improve the bond you have with your pet.
It is a special bonding experience. For starters, hide and seek teaches your dog that staying close to you is rewarding. And we want that right? We want our puppy to be close to us. This way we can control any situation that might occur.
It is amazing how quickly dogs learn the game. You will love watching your puppy trying to find you from your hiding spots.
Let’s talk more about hide and seek.
Why play hide and seek?
Now, you might think hide and seek is just a fun game. And that is the only thing you can get. But you are wrong. Do you know that playing the game with your puppy can benefit your puppy training? Here are some reasons how playing hide and seek can improve your dog training sessions.
- Improves your dog follower state of mind
- Serves as great mental stimulation
- Helps your dog learn to ignore scents and distractions and focus on you
- Makes training fun, and when things are fun, it is easier to learn
- Makes a great nose game
- Improves your dog’s recall
- With hound dogs and some breeds, hide and seek stimulates your dog’s natural instinct to search
- Serves as a bonding experience. The more bonded you are with your puppy, the easier it is to train
How to teach your pet to play the game?
Now, when you want to play the game, I have to warn you. Do not start hiding just out of anywhere. This might stress your dog. You have to teach your dog to search for you first before you can incorporate it during walks.
The FIRST STEP is to teach your dog to stay in one spot. Having a reliable sit/stay is a must for this game. Once you teach your dog to stay in one spot, you can move to the next step.
I know this is tough and challenging. Most dogs will get up the moment you leave their view. That is great, it means your dog has a great bond with you. But teach them to stay. As you are moving away from your puppy, repeat commands like “wait” and “stay”. It depends on what command your puppy knows.
Work your way up as you move away from your puppy. When you think your puppy can stay in one spot for a few seconds while you are hiding, it is time to move to the next level.
And what is that? Well, put your dog in a sit/stay position, hide, and then call him/her. If your dog starts looking for you before you call them, lead your puppy back to its waiting spot. Try again, but cut back on the waiting time.
Celebrating the successful find
The first part of learning hide and seek and teaching your puppy to wait for your signal before they can look for you.
Now, the next step is celebrating the successful find. And this is the most important part of the game. This is the one that rewards the dog and reinforces his behavior for always searching for you and following you.
You can play hide and seek with treats, toys, food, or anything that drives your dog. Remember, some puppies are toy-driven. Others are food-driven. And then there are dogs that love nothing more than your attention.
So, when your dog finds you, give him the jackpot. That is either lots of treats/kibble, play with his toy, or go nuts petting him.
How to Use Hide and Seek in Your Training?
I mentioned that hide and seek can help you train your puppy. Well, one thing that hide and seek does is improve your recall. I can go all day why recall is so important, but I am sure you already know that.
When you master the game, you can incorporate in your daily walks. If you have your dog off lead, simply disappear when your puppy is sniffing away from you. Hide behind a tree, a bush, or anything else. And then call your pet.
You will see how he will come lighting fast. Nothing happens overnight, but playing the game will change things. I can assure you, within months, you will have one of the fastest recalls.
Encouraging the behavior
Playing hid and seek with your pup does wonder for your bond and training. As I’ve said before, it stimulates an integral area of your dog’s natural instincts. For example, retriever breeds and hound breeds, have a natural instinct to sniff, explore, and search for things. Milo is the same as well.
And it also improves your puppy’s recall. So, I highly recommend that you encourage the behavior every time you can.
That means whenever you are walking, hide and call your dog. But remember to have rewards ready. Only when you reward your dog with high-value rewards you can encourage your pup to seek for you. That means more rewards than a simple recall.
The rule in dog training is simple. Harder exercise = higher value rewards.
It is never a bad idea to play hide and seek
If you struggle with off-leash walking outside, I recommend trying to play the game at home first. You can hide in a different room or outside in the backyard.
But remember, it is never too cold for hide and seek. The game provides physical and mental stimulation. It makes your dog happy. Playing outside will strengthen recall in different areas. And when it is too cold, you can get some pillows and blankets and create hiding spots in your home.
Creative play is a huge part of positive training. Having fun while training is the secret to success and having your dog happy. So, start playing and improve your dog’s quality of life.