How to Play Hide and Seek with a Dog

This post will look at how to play hide and seek with a dog.

It’s a fun game to play with your dog – but it’s also so much more.

Hide and seek is a good old fashioned game that provides mental stimulation and is an excellent way to strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. You’ll enjoy watching your dog search for you from your hiding spot; it makes recall training fun and it’s surprising how quickly dogs get the hang of it.

The whole family can get involved with this great game, which not only engages your dog’s sense of smell but increases their ability to problem solve and exercises both his body and mind.

Play this game when you are stuck inside or as an addition to a daily walk to get rid of pent up energy; best of all, you don’t need any expensive equipment or be a professional trainer. All you need is some hiding spots and treats for when your dog finds you.

Below you will discover how to train your dog to play hide and seek and some tips for making it more interesting

Step by Step Guide to Playing Hide and Seek With Your Dog

Step One – stay

First, you’ll need to teach your dog to stay in one room whilst you find hiding places either for yourself or a toy. This can be difficult as most dogs get up as soon as dog owners are out of sight, so you may need to spend a few sessions mastering this before playing hide and seek.

Start by getting your dog’s attention and asking them to sit and stay whilst you are in the room; when they can do this, leave for a few seconds and return with treats or their favourite toy as a reward. Even if your pup hasn’t mastered basic commands, you can still play; you just need to let a family member or assistant hold your dog until your hidden.

Step Two – The fun game begins

The first few times playing hide and seek in the house, make your hiding places easy, perhaps behind a door or under a table where he can see you. Once your dog understands the game, you can choose more complex hiding places.

Once your furry friend sees where you’re hiding, simply call out their name. If you play this fun game regularly, you could teach commands such as “search”, “find or “seek.”. If your dog really isn’t getting the hang of it, you can always use a long leash to get them to come to you, but food usually does the trick for most pets.

Step Three – What to do when your dog finds you

Once your dog has discovered your hiding place, make a big deal out of it, praise them profusely and offer a reward, treats work well as a reward the first few times until they get the hang of it, but cuddles or their favourite toys can work just as well without the extra calories.

Step Four – Make it harder.

Once your dog has practised a few times, you can start to make hiding locations more difficult for him. This way, he will have to work harder and use his intelligence to track you down. Perhaps hide upstairs under some blankets or hide in a closet with the door ajar.

It’s essential to take this stage slowly so your dog doesn’t lose interest or become discouraged; remember, dogs have a relatively short attention span and become bored and frustrated with the game if it’s too complicated.

Step Five – Use dog hide and seek toys.

You can mix things up a bit by hiding other items and not just yourself. At first, it’s best to use something smelly such as a stuffed Kong or their favourite toy, keep the commands the same and once again make the hiding spots easy to start with. When you play hide and seek with your dog, it promotes natural behaviours like sniffing in a safe, controlled environment.

Step 6 – Take it outside.

Once Fido understands the basics, you can play this game outside with your dog. The concept is similar, but he may find it more difficult because of distractions like other animals or smells that are not found at home! Nevertheless, you will have fun trying out new places to play hide-and-seek. If you have an automatic dog door you’ll see them running in and out searching for you.

Tips for playing hide and seek with dog companions outdoors

  1. Find the best routes with hiding spots like trees, rocks, etc
  2. Take someone with you to keep your dog distracted and hold the leash
  3. Hide somewhere relatively easy, not too far away
  4. Have your assistant command the dog to seek
  5. Reward the dog when he locates you with lots of praise and or treats.
  6. Increase the level of difficulty slowly.

When playing games outside it’s better to have a dog friendly garden, read our tips for that here.

Always use positive reinforcement when teaching your dog to play hide and seek.

You can have a lot of fun and be efficient at training your dog with activities. For instance, hide-and-seek is a fun way to help him master basic commands such as “sit and stay.” or “wait.

Here’s a short video from Eukanuba on training your dog the basics

You should always use positive reinforcement while teaching how to play this game! I recommend ignoring mistakes – just let them understand what’s expected without interacting for a while if need be. It’s a new game for them and they will get the hang of it eventually.

Don’t drag it out

Whether you are playing in the house or outdoors, it’s important that games are played for short periods, you can introduce new challenges; just make sure both you and your pet don’t get bored or frustrated playing hide and go seek. A puppy may lose interest; old dogs may get tired and need a rest.

Use a leash

Playing hide and seek off-leash outdoors can also be dangerous unless your dog has excellent recall. Dog’s are easily distracted by fascinating smells, other dogs and animals, so having another person with you or keeping them on a leash prevents them from running off into the road or getting lost.

Can a dog be the hider?

Having your dog locate you is all very well, but what about the other way round? It can be done by teaching your dog to hide on command, but it’s definitely not as easy as the opposite way round and it should not be done outdoors. I’m not sure how sensible it is for dogs hiding indoors either, especially when you want to locate them, for example, at bath time or a visit to the vet; it can have negative connotations.

Other Games to Play With Your Dog

There are lots of games your dog will enjoy playing with their humans, such as tug of war, agility exercises and ones involving nose-work. Check out our article on games to play with your dog in the house for more ideas.

FAQ’s

Is hide and seek stressful for dogs?

Not if it’s done correctly, no. Of course, suddenly disappearing on a puppy or a dog with separation anxiety can be stressful, which is why there should be a careful build-up if using this game as part of recall training. Having another person there will definitely help make a big fuss of your dog when they find you with a treat as a reward!

Why does my dog like to play hide and seek?

Dogs are great smellers and they have a natural instinct to sniff things out, whether it be food or their humans. This is a good game for dogs because it’s basically hunting, which they love to do.

How do you teach a dog to play hide and seek with toys?

Your dog will have a blast searching for a hidden toy. Start by hiding them in plain sight and saying the words “find” or “seek” You can increase the difficulty of hiding spots as your pup becomes more experienced and learns where you’ve tucked away their favourite treats or squeaky toy but make sure it’s not too hard at first!

Conclusion

Most dogs enjoy playing hide and seek and learn this game quickly. With some training, patience and practice, you can have great fun knowing your dog is getting mentally challenged. Letting your pup locate you with his nose is very stimulating. Besides, what’s better than playing games that your dog loves to strengthen your bond.

Teaching your dog new things can be challenging and requires patience, plus the odd treat. However, I’m sure that every effort you put into making him understand how to play hide and seek will be worth it! There are also hide and seek toys for dogs available online. Once he masters this game you can do something fun with him even on rainy days when you can only go out for a quick potty break.

We hope this guide has given you some tips on teaching your dog how to play hide and seek, have fun!

John Devlin

Blogger and owner of George and Henry. Two gorgeous goldens that couldn’t be more different. One is a dream loving and caring, and his sibling is as naughty as can be. When I am not blogging about dogs, I love watching sport and travelling with the family.
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