Teach your dog hide and seek


This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever BVSc (Hons)

Whether it be a global pandemic or just a rainy day, it can be tricky keeping furry family members entertained if you can't leave the house. So we're here to help! Check out our Discover page for more tips and activities for those days when you're stuck at home.

How to play hide and seek with your dog

Hide and seek is one of my dogs' Jatz and Lando (pictured above being good boys) favourite games to play at home. It's also a great way to practise the 'sit' and 'stay' commands!

What you will need:

Step 1: Get 'sit' and 'stay' sorted

First thing's first, you'll need to teach your dog to 'sit', if you haven't nailed this one yet, take a look at our basic commands series, beginning with Teach your dog to sit. After you've got sit, you can move on to 'lie down' next or skip forward to 'stay'.

Step 2: Practice 'stay' increasing the distance

Up next, really work on increasing the distance you can move away and get your dog to 'stay'. This can be a long process, so work up step by step if you have to until your dog will reliably hold 'stay' while you are out of sight. If your dog breaks 'stay' just drop back the distance and keep reinforcing the behaviour with treats and praise.

Tip: keep to multiple short (10 to 15 minute) training sessions through the day to help keep their focus and prevent frustration.

Step 3: Recall

Once your dog will stay, now is the time to bring in recall. Ask your dog to 'sit' or 'lie down' and 'stay', move away and then call them to 'come' after a short time. Start in the same room and gradually work up to doing this from outside of the room. If your dog breaks the stay before you call them, again return to practicing 'stay' and 'come' from a smaller distance.

Tip: always end training sessions on a 'win' if you can, to keep your dog looking forward to the next one. Finish with an easier command and reward with plenty of treats and praise!

Step 4: Time to play!

Have your dog 'sit' or 'lie down' and 'stay', then find a place in the house to hide (treats in hand!). When you are hidden, call your dogs to 'come' and have them find you, rewarding them with a treat and praise when they do. Make sure only to reward them finding you if you have given the recall command, otherwise they may get confused about the 'stay' command.

Over time you can get more and more complex with hiding places and even have multiple players too!

What are the benefits of teaching your dog hide and seek?

  • Mentally engaging - dogs are using their brain to learn new skills
  • Sensory stimulation - dogs are using their nose to sniff you out and ears to listen for cues
  • Reinforces important commands - hide and seek is a fun way to practice 'sit', 'lie down', 'stay' and 'come'
  • Social and emotional - spending time doing activities with your dog solidifies the human-animal bond
  • It's fun! - great for breaking up the day, reducing boredom, boosting morale and helping to reduce stress and anxiety

Stay tuned for more fun at home activities for dogs and other pets.

Further reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

Teach your dog to sit

Teach your dog to lie down

Teach your dog to stay

Teach your dog to roll over

Teach your dog to shake paws

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