Now we are having fun

I am in the midst of making a DVD with fun training games for client’s and their dogs. My dogs and I are training and having fun with all the games featured just before we go on camera.

As is customary of our morning routine, I think about practicing with Rio and the game of Find it! It is an easy game to teach and most dogs love it. The idea behind many of these games, and Find it in particular, is to make use of our dog’s natural searching and hunting abilities. They are after all hunters as well as scavengers, so introducing an urban version of it not only makes sense but it is loaded with benefits for the dogs.

Rio has played this game in a different context, so I decide to start in this new setting as I would with any dog that has not previously played the game.

Deuce is already playing with his toy and now I am setting the stage up for Rio to begin finding little mounds of kibble all over the living room and kitchen. After placing more or less strategic mounds of food here and there I release Rio with a “go find it.”

She beings her nose work yet not sure where to go first… I follow her kind of closely as I keep telling her to find it in a happy voice. When she misses one of her piles, I walk on that direction as I keep an eye on her- giving her the chance to find it on her own.

I want her to “work” to locate the food but not to become frustrated to the point of stopping the search – that is not the goal of the game.

She passes by one of her kibble stops without seeing it so I proceed to call her name and as I tell her once again to find it I am pointing with my index finger towards the pile (Yes, they can actually follow this gesture. Most animals do not!) She sees it now and proceeds to chow down the food. Her mouth now wide open as if smiling and her tail wagging wanting more.

I proceed to ask her to stay in the kitchen – a more advanced step as I go “hide” kibble in different places. I take it up a notch and I put some of the kibble on the living room sofa as well as a coffee table that she can reach with ease. No, she will not necessarily go after people-food left on the coffee table because of playing this game. Dogs, remember, are very good discriminators. Which translate to a dog that is used to investigating or taking people-food from tables, etc. will continue to do so if the opportunity presents itself but not because of playing the game.

Back to Rio. We do a few trials of the Find it game. Our game finally involves her opening a plastic container that I previously hid for her to get the last of the kibble.

She is a bit struck – not sure what to make of it. I make it then a bit easier for her by opening the lid just a little. Not long before her Beagle nose is hard at work.

With this we end our morning session. I make a note of the next steps I need to follow for our future training/play sessions as we join Deuce for our morning walk.