Search Games in the Home

APBC search games lindsay mann
One of the most enjoyable things I gained from learning to do a search square with my Belgian Shepherd is that dogs really love to use their noses, and feel very clever doing so!
I decided to incorporate this enjoyment into a search game indoors. This is a game anyone can do with their dog; you certainly don’t have to be any sort of expert to teach it.
The first thing is to either train your dog to do a nice Sit and Wait, or else have a helper to just hold the dog gently by the collar until you give the “where is it?” cue.
I usually put my dog into a Sit Wait in the hall. I then go into the living room -which is around the corner so she cannot see me - with about 10 pieces of kibble (you can use chicken or anything else you think your dog would enjoy searching for and finding). It may help to start off with something quite smelly until your dog has got the idea – although do be aware that some of it may end up stuffed behind sofa cushions, which you may not want smelling of dog goodies!
Next, I hide the treats around the room. It helps to make it easy at first and put the treats behind chair legs and under the edge of the rug. I also put some on “her” sofa and push some a little way down behind the cushions.
Note: When hiding treats, do be aware of your dog’s face shape! The short faced breeds such as Boxers, Pugs etc will find it much more difficult to get hold of treats hidden behind sofa cushions than a longer nosed dog like a Belgian. So take this into account when hiding.
When the food is hidden, go back to your dog and give one reserved piece as a reward for their patience. Then, release with a forward sweep of the arm and an excited “Where is it?” Encourage your dog to go into the room where the treats are hidden, and help them a little if necessary. Be encouraging and if necessary, guide and point at these early stages. Studies show that dogs are sometimes able to understand human pointing gestures and they may follow your hand signals. Always remember that you are really asking your dog to use his sense of smell, so be prepared to give less help as he becomes more experienced.
Most dogs find this game very rewarding, and it’s also a lot of fun for the owner to eventually have a dog who will not only Sit and Wait impressively, but who will use their nose to find food hidden away! It is such fun to watch.
It also has a practical application in that it helps to teach the one thing all dogs need and all owners appreciate: self-control.
Lindsay Mann