Training

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2 min read

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How to Train Your Dog to Play 'Find the Treat'

Training

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2 min read

|

1

Comments

How to Train Your Dog to Play 'Find the Treat'
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon1-4 Weeks
Fun training category iconFun

Introduction

Your pup's nose is thousands of times more sensitive than yours and can detect the slightest scent from hundreds of yards and sometimes even miles away, depending on how the wind is blowing. While in nature dogs use their noses to find food, detect enemies, keep an eye on their pack and much more, most find themselves subjected to little challenge now they are domesticated. However, the good news is that you can put this natural talent to good use, teaching your pup to find things using nothing more than his nose.

The rest of the good news is that your dog will thoroughly enjoy playing this game once he learns it. In fact, you may find he starts bringing you things to hide just so he can go find them. Not only is this great fun for him, it is a good way to get a little extra exercise.

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Defining Tasks

The task at hand is to train your pup to use that great big nose on the front of his face to find things you have hidden around the house or out in the yard. This type of training typically involves allowing your pup to sniff and/or see the item to be hidden so that he knows what he is "looking" for.

You can start training your pup this trick once he has mastered the four basic commands, 'come', 'sit', 'stay', and 'down'. You may also want to have trained your pup to fetch first, this way he will bring what he finds back to you.

You can, of course, also teach this trick to an older dog. It may take longer, but most dogs can learn this trick as long as you are patient and willing to work with them. 

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Getting Started

For this trick, you will need a few items along with plenty of time and a place to practice that can provide you with plenty of spots to hide the items being used for training. In most cases, working inside your home is a good place to start, but if you have a dog who you feel is too big to bounce around the house, you can take the training outside. You don't need much in the way of supplies, but you will need:

  • Treats
  • Collar
  • Leash
  • A quiet place

The most important thing to remember is that you are teaching your dog to play a game. This means you need to make every aspect of the training as much fun as possible for both of you. You can teach virtually any dog to find treats, but the younger you start, the faster your pup is likely to learn. 

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The Treat Toss Method

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1

Find a quiet training spot

Choose a room in your house with plenty of floor space where it will be nice and quiet for training purposes.

2

Call your pup in

Call your pup into the room and have him sit for you.

3

Show him the treat

Show your pup the treat and then toss it out in the middle of the room while giving him the cue "Find it!

4

Let him enjoy the treat

Let him enjoy his reward and then bring him back to you and praise him for doing a good job. Repeat the process until he finds the treat every time.

5

Time to hide it

Now that your pup can find the treat anywhere you toss it on the floor, start "hiding" it for your pup to sniff out. Each time he finds it, make sure to praise him and let him enjoy the treat he has earned. You can continue to make the game more challenging as you go. In fact, the more challenging you make it, the more your pup is likely to enjoy it.

The Obvious Location Method

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1

Starting positions, if you please

Call your dog into a quiet room in the house where he won't be distracted and make him sit.

2

Show him what's in it for him

Show your dog the treat he is going to get when he finds it. Give him plenty of time to sniff it.

3

Hide the treat

Hide the treat somewhere where he can easily find it like under a napkin on the floor.

4

Find it

Tell your pup to 'find it' and release him. When he finds the treat, let him have it and praise him.

5

Make it harder for him

Continue playing the game making it a little harder each time for your pup to find. Once he has mastered finding the treat, you can apply this training to finding many other things, all of which your pup is sure to enjoy.

The See and Smell Method

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1

You'll need an assistant

For this method, you are going to need an assistant. It can be a member of your family or a friend your pup is familiar with.

2

Break out the treats

Break out a bag of your pup's favorite treats to use for training.

3

Have a sniff

Give your pup a chance to sniff at the treat so that he knows what he is looking for.

4

Hide it

Well, let's back up a bit. Hide the treat somewhere in plain sight where he will be able to see it easily.

5

Find it

Have your friend release your pup while you give him the 'find it' command.

6

Praise him

As soon as your pup finds the treat tell him he's a "Good Boy!" and let him enjoy the treat.

7

Moving on

The rest is all about practice and making the hiding places subsequently harder. Your pup is going to love this game and will literally beg you to play it with him. It's a great way for him to get a little exercise. Get out there and have fun!

By PB Getz

Published: 12/21/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Gracie

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Golden Retriever

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10 Months

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Question

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Gracie is very energetic and loves people. Am trying to teach her to be calm while new people encountered. She is calm at home but when introduced to new location and people, She gets very exciteable. She is 70 pounds and a bullet, so need to get this under control soon! I have been taking her to new location with moderate crowds and sitting on a bench with lots of treats. Is there anything else I can do? She is not shy at all. Very confident.

Jan. 31, 2021

Gracie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Diana, You can also practice the Passing Approach method from the article I have linked below with friends you have recruited to walk past, instead of dogs like the method mentions. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Check out the Sit method for polite greetings, or the Leash method if pup tends to jump: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump An intermediate obedience class or canine good citizen class can also be a good place to practice calm obedience around others if pup already knows basic obedience - and can obey when things are calm away from crowds. Those classes will specifically practice commands but with distractions like people around if you find a good class. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 3, 2021


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