Never let your dogs eat chocolate! At least not the human kind!
There, that’s got the essential safety information out of the way, now it is time for some Easter fun with your pooch!
Firstly, collect some toys or treats that your dog would love to have. We got some special doggy chocolate from Pets Corner at Waterside. We also got some Easter buckets and baskets that are just the right size for our dogs to pick up. You can do this too, or make some – it is really easy to construct them from card – take a look at any childrens’ craft website!
Next, show your dog the game as you may need to teach them what to do first. Pick a treat and let your dog see you hiding it. This can be indoors or outdoors. Make it obvious that you are hiding something! This is to help teach your dog that you actually want him to find and eat the treat, instead of the usual ‘don’t touch’ that we teach our dogs.
As your dog looks for the treat, say ‘Find it!’ and praise him well when he does. Hide the treat three or four times in different places, each time repeating ‘Find it’ and letting your dog search.
Don’t help your dog too much. He will quickly learn to rely on your visual skills rather than his own nose! Let him do the seeking, as this is part of the game. Sniffing things out is a very tiring activity for your dog, to make sure you get a peaceful evening later on.
Next, take your dog out of the room or away from the search area, go back and hide several treats, covering some up a little more so that your dog has to look more carefully. Send him in and again, say ‘Find it’. Praise him well as he uncovers each goody.
Using your little baskets, try and encourage your dog to hold the handle. This can be done by getting them to fetch it as they would a toy, but encourage the dog to grip the handle itself. A more thorough way is to teach ‘hold’ which is something we do in our classes, but you would have to come along to learn this as it takes longer than this column! If this is tricky, use toilet roll inners with treats on the inside and the ends pinched together.
Now it is time for the real thing. First of all, remove all human food items from the room and make sure the barbecue in the garden does not become a great place to look.
Hide your dog treats in the little baskets and containers, and off you go!
Find it! Happy Easter!
– Karen Wild