Do cold, winter days and early, dark nights make you and your dog stir crazy? It's time to get creative with inside activities and beat the winter blues! One of my favorite ways to tire out my dog during the winter (and honestly all year round!) is to combine obedience and scent work with a game called "Find It"...10-12 minutes of this and he is ready for a nap!
Here's how to teach and play Find It!:
1. Ask your dog to Sit, let them sniff a treat then toss it 2-3 ft away as you say Find It! Gradually toss the treat farther away. Repeat at least a 5-6 times at the same distance and remember to say Find It! every time you toss it. Find It! is the release cue.
2. Once your dog is doing well with finding a treat at a distance of approximately 8-10 ft, its time to up the challenge. Standing near a doorway or corner wall, ask your dog to Sit, let them sniff the treat, then ask them to Stay as you walk just a few steps around the corner(out of their sight). Place the treat on the ground, return to your dog (who should still be in a Sit Stay!), and then tell them to go Find It! As they hunt for the treat, they are using their incredible sense of smell to track it down.
3. As your dog gets better, increase the challenge by changing up the hiding spot....put it on a higher level like a chair seat, take the visual out of play by putting it behind a door or under their bed/blanket, or use a toy instead of a treat. Let them smell the item first so they know what they are sniffing for!
4. Remember, this is a game and should be a fun activity for both of you so if you or your dog are getting frustrated simply take a break or do a couple easy rounds to make it successful. Happy hunting!