If you have trained your dog to come when you call him, you have most likely trained him to play hide and seek as well. How so? Much like children, dogs enjoy playing games and live for the excitement. One of the best parts of having a dog companion is being able to surprise them with new and fun-filled activities.
From tug-of-war to fetch, dogs enjoy any type of play that keeps their energy fuel burning. Why do dogs love hide and seek so much? You can find out more about the reasons behind the behavior and what you can do to support their playful nature by reading on.
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The Root of the Behavior
Hide and seek is a great game for just about any dog. Regardless of breed and body construction, this type of play is one of their favorite things to do. Whether it is being played with by an old and lazy Pug or a vibrant 3-month-old Beagle, it is a good exercise for both the dog's body and brain. What child doesn’t enjoy playing hide and seek? The same goes for your pup… think of him as a 2-year-old kid that refuses to grow up.
The thrill is the same as that of a child’s, whenever they find the hider. Researchers say dogs have abilities comparable to young children, so do not act so surprised next time you catch him sneaking his way out of bath time or stealing that chocolate leftover off the countertop. Intelligent animals love games. From learning impressive tricks to simulating human behavior, dogs have a real appetite for problem-solving tasks. Which is why hide and seek is right up their alley.
Given the fact that hide and seek engages both the body and mind of your little furry friend, they will have to exercise, think, and problem solve in order to locate you. The pack leader instinct breaks through once again, so it is only natural for them to go and find you. Dogs will usually start the game using visual and voice cues. At some point, they will reverse their strategy and go back to their primal instinct – the scent.
If you reinforce the behavior of going seek by rewarding them with treats, you have to know that at some point, they might lose their motivation. Not to worry, because some dogs will play this game for the simple joy of it. At the same time, make sure you are not reinforcing otherwise unwanted behavior such as door scratching, jumping on people or climbing.
Encouraging the Behavior
Playing hide and seek with your pup stimulates an integral area of his natural instincts, encouraging him to remember his name, strengthening recall behavior and reinforcing his scent tracking ability. If you want to enjoy the game with your dog, you need to have some basic rules in place. The first thing you should do is make sure that your pup is familiar with the stay command. In this way, he will not simply follow you to your hiding location as soon as the game starts.
The next thing is to call him out so that he can start figuring out where to look. What you want to do is choose a place that is not out of sight, so that he can easily find you the first few times and figure out how things should be going from there on. This will also boost his self-confidence and give him a chance to use his natural instincts to greater lengths.
Celebrating your pup’s win will encourage them not to get distracted or discouraged during the game. Make sure you practice it in a safe place where your dog cannot get hurt or lost, and find a trusty helper to help hold your pup while you hide.
Other Solutions and Considerations
One thing you should consider while playing the game with your pup is to add complexity to the task as you go along. If they lose enthusiasm, you can increase the distance you hide from them, hide the treat in your pocket, or find a new hiding spot, as these will keep your dog active and engaged the entire time. You can even choose to hide outside so that you challenge him to search and use his sense of smell, hearing, and sight to his best abilities. Another thing to be mindful of is to not punish or interfere with him playing the game.
Hide and seek is a great workout for your dog's brain and body and a great way to reinforce positive training. It is also a great way to stimulate their natural instincts and keep them out of mischief. Think of it as a playful activity that can strengthen your bond even tighter. Let them have all the fun in finding you, after all, that’s the reason you’re playing in the first place.