Have you ever seen an old movie, where a sniffer dog tracks down the lost toddler and saves the day? Just imagine how amazing it would be, if your dog could do something similar and 'find' things when you give the 'Go find' command. In truth, teaching this command is akin to teaching a dog to follow a scent... making it all the more impressive when he does just that.
As well as retrieving hidden toys on command, teaching a dog to find things has a practical side. While your dog may not graduate to being a fully fledged tracker dog, learning to use his nose is a fantastic skill.
Imagine putting down your car keys and not being able to find them. Because keys are handled a lot and smell of the owner, they make a great object for a dog to find. When he's used to finding your sock, hat, or T-shirt, then you can simply give him a piece of clothing to sniff then tell him "Go find." He then helpfully sniffs out and tracks down the missing keys. Result!
Training a dog to find things is a form of scent tracking. It involves identifying an object and then hiding it, such that the dog has to go and find it. This can either be done by giving the dog the object to sniff before it is hidden, or showing the dog the object and then hiding it.
This is a great training game to play with an adult dog. It's helpful if he already has a grasp of basic commands such as Sit and Stay, and has learned to listen to your commands. While it's not impossible to teach a puppy to find things, he's far more likely to be scatterbrained and easily distracted by other objects in the room.
Some dog breeds, such as beagles and bloodhounds, have a natural talent for sniffing. Teaching them to find things using scent feeds into their strengths and provided they listen, they will pick things up quickly. But of course, all dogs have a good sense of smell and so this trick should be within the grasp of most dogs, given enough time and patience.
You'll need something for the dog to find, either a favorite toy or something that smells strongly of you. Also, you need treats to reward the dog and plenty of patience.
A favorite toy
A hat or T-shirt with your scent on it
A collar and leash, or a friend to hold the dog
Make this into a game, so that the dog is playing rather than working. When searching for a toy, it helps if the dog already knows the 'name' or word for the toy, so he knows what he's looking for. When searching by scent, this is less important as you let the dog sniff the object he is seeking ahead of hiding it.
She dose not get it
Hello Belina, Because River is still so young, her instincts related to hunting something, may not be apparent yet. I would recommend starting with an easier game right now, that will teach her the basic concept of looking for something, and come back to the other methods in a couple of months. A easy game is Hide and Seek. Teach her to look for you. To do this, begin by calling her name excitedly, and then tell her "Find Belina", while you run away from her. Act very silly to encourage her to come to you. When she gets to you, praise her, play with her for a moment, and give her a treat. When she begins to run directly to you after practicing this for a while, start to run away and hide partially behind something while telling her "Find Belina!". Let her see you doing this, and make sure where you hide is very easy at first. While she runs after you and searches for you, make noise to give her a hint, such as clapping or calling her name. Gradually make your hiding spots more difficult, and when she can find you when you are out of sight completely, then get a friend or family member to play this game with you and your dog, and have her "Find" that person by name also. After she has mastered this game, and is a littler older, then go back to some of the methods included in this article and work on those. Playing Hide and Seek with her should help her to learn the concept of finding things, and should also teach her how to use her nose a bit. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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