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Hide and Seek: A Fun Game to Play With Your Dog

Updated on December 20, 2015
Misha finds the treat
Misha finds the treat | Source

A Fun, Stimulating Game to Play with Your Dog

It's late at night. My dog, Misha, has decided it's time for bed. I take her outside to do her business. When we come back inside she is ready for her favorite game: Hide and Seek.

Yes, the very same game you played as a child. Wasn't it fun speeding off while the seeker had their eyes closed? You rushed to find your hiding place giggling the whole way.

It's the same game only different. Let's face it, dogs can't count. With a couple adjustments, a dog can learn how to play.

Misha on the hunt
Misha on the hunt | Source

How to Play the Game with Your Dog

Hide and seek is composed of two elements. There is the one who is hiding. There is the one who is seeking. It's pretty simple really.

Dogs do best as seeker. Trust me. They tend to roam away or get really excited when they see you leaving, thus, ruining the whole “finding” part of the game.

As seeker, a dog can be motivated to find things they love. It may be people, toys, or food. Whatever you choose, give your dog time to figure out the object of the game. Some take a little longer than others.

Here's how you do it. Leave your dog in one room. Then, hide. But, don't pick a place that is too difficult at first. You want to be found.

Call your dog. Do this in a happy, joy filled manner. This is supposed to be fun!

When your dog eventually finds you, make sure it knows how happy you are. Give verbal and treat rewards. Repeat a few times until the idea sinks in. After the dog gets the idea, you should be able to eliminate the treats.

Limited Space? Get a Puzzle Toy!

Outward Hound Paw Hide Interactive Dog Toy Puzzle for Dogs
Outward Hound Paw Hide Interactive Dog Toy Puzzle for Dogs

Do you live in small quarters? You can still play hide and seek with your dog. This puzzle toy is designed to challenge your dog mentally and provide a little entertainment--for both of you. Hide a favorite treat under the cups and watch how your dog reacts. Great fun for all!

 

What Motivates Your Dog?

There are many ways you can play this game:

  • Hide yourself or another family member
  • Hide a favorite toy
  • Hide a favorite blanket
  • Hide treats

My dog does okay with people, but won't even look for her toys. What Misha is motivated by is food. As long as I hide food, she will search for it. Sometimes she even persists long after the game is over.

Variation on the Theme: Use Treats or Toys

At some point, you might get tired of hiding. You can make the game more challenging by hiding a favorite toy or food.

First, secure your dog in a room. If you don't, it will be running right behind you which kind of defeats the purpose. Next, hide the toys or treats in fairly obvious places. It is going to take your dog awhile to get this, so you don't want it to be too difficult. You don't want to end up as seeker. Every time an object is found, lather on the praise.

Once you've played a couple of times, your praise should work as reinforcement. It doesn't take most dogs long to figure out what you want them to do especially if food is involved.

If your dog is good with the sit/stay command, you can adjust the game by putting your dog in command before allowing it to find whatever you've hidden. This doesn't work with my dog. As a Jack Russell, her enthusiasm gets the better of her.

My Jack Russell is really good at hiding, only we weren't playing the game at the time.  She was hiding from the fly swatter.
My Jack Russell is really good at hiding, only we weren't playing the game at the time. She was hiding from the fly swatter. | Source

A Way to Say I Love You

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This is Our Nighttime Ritual

Sometimes Misha is a pain in the butt at bedtime. She's feisty and bratty when all I want to do is go to bed. Hide and Seek seemed a perfect way to burn off some of that energy.

I break up a couple of treats into small pieces. Then, I hide them throughout the house. I have to change my hiding spots periodically because she remembers what I've done the night before. She runs around the house, from room to room, sniffing and searching. It can take her 20 minutes to find everything.

Towards the end, I will help her a bit. I never tell her where it is. Instead, I make a circle motion around the general area. For a dog who doesn't get it when I point directly at something (she usually looks at the end of my finger), she understands this surprisingly well.

After it's over, she wants a neck rub. It's hard work! Then, she lays down and that's it for the night.

Misha Plays Hide and Seek

Why Play Games with Your Dog?

Dogs need challenges just like humans. Most dogs need a job to do, some are even bred for it. When that stimulation is absent, they get bored, destructive, and bratty. When we play games like this one, we engage their brains. They enjoy the break in their routine and they love the rewards that go with it.

It is also a good way to burn off energy. The dog walks around for 15-20 minutes engaging many senses. Just watch the nose for the sniffing action! There is a lot going on. Different skills are necessary to play the game. It takes a lot of effort to find stuff. You'd be surprised how tiring it is!

Give the game a try. Modify it for your dog's needs. Your dog gets some activity and you get to sit down for a few minutes and rest.

More Games to Play With Your Pup

Brain Games for Dogs: Fun Ways to Build a Strong Bond with Your Dog and Provide It with Vital Mental Stimulation
Brain Games for Dogs: Fun Ways to Build a Strong Bond with Your Dog and Provide It with Vital Mental Stimulation

There are many different games you can play with your dog. Burn off some energy, provide mental stimulation, and have some fun with your four legged friend.

 

Misha Hot on the Trail

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Is there a treat here?Some of the hiding places are fairly obvious, but she still misses them.Look to your left, Misha!One of my hiding placesOh, I think there is one on the box!Searching in the kitchenScoping out the living room
Is there a treat here?
Is there a treat here? | Source
Some of the hiding places are fairly obvious, but she still misses them.
Some of the hiding places are fairly obvious, but she still misses them. | Source
Look to your left, Misha!
Look to your left, Misha! | Source
One of my hiding places
One of my hiding places | Source
Oh, I think there is one on the box!
Oh, I think there is one on the box! | Source
Searching in the kitchen
Searching in the kitchen | Source
Scoping out the living room
Scoping out the living room | Source

Another Way to Play

You may live in an apartment or have very limited space. You can still play this game but in a different way.

Find a couple of small cardboard boxes that you don't care about. Put a treat in one box or several. Close the box flaps, but don't use tape or anything else your dog might eat. Then, put the box on the ground and let your dog have at it. It may take a while for your dog to figure out there is a treat in the box. Then, depending on how smart it is, it might take some time to figure out how to get it out. You can use other objects like a pillowcase. Just remember that your dog will smash and chew whatever it is, so don't use your favorite stuff.

My previous dog used to love this game. She would work on a cardboard box for several minutes. Sometimes I would make it even more difficult by hiding a box within a box.

Whichever version of the game you choose, your dog is sure to love it. It will provide some busy time, puzzle solving, and activity. Not only is this good to do at bedtime, but it's a great game for a rainy or snowy day. Once your dog has mastered hide and seek, try a new game. There are so many that you two can play.

© 2014 Melody Lassalle

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    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      Thanks peachpurple! I think she's cute too. :) I'm not sure if your cat would like this game.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      your doggy is cute, even dogs can play hide and seek, i wish my cat could

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      Thanks for your comments, Alexadry! Hide and seek is part of our nightly routine. My dog burns off so much energy at bedtime searching for her little treats. You are fortunate that your dogs with hunt for humans or a favorite toy. I think if I hid Misha would probably leave me wherever I was hiding. LOL

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Hide-n-seek is one of our favorite games and one of the most played. We do several versions of it. The classic is with my dogs in a stay, I go hide and tell them to find me. The other my husband hides and I tell them to find him (which has turned also helpful when I can't find my husband) and the last we hide their favorite ball and they go searching for it. They love it!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comments, Stella! Dogs sure do love games, don't they? My dog would play any game that involves food. We play hide and seek each night and sometimes she is so excited that she is running ahead of me before I hide the treats. LOL

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      On Friday night after work I would take a string and tie a large dog biscuit on a string and tie the other end to a branch off on our our many trees and let my rhodesian ridgeback find it she loved that game. Nice hub, Stella

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      Mary615, thanks for the comments and the vote up :). Your mini Schnauzer sounds cute. Misha isn't very good at fetch. She understands the game, but she'll only chase the ball or toy 3-4 times. The last throw she runs up to it, gives me a look that says "you expect me to pick that up?", then walks into another room. LOL

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      I have a Min. Schnauzer who loves to play; especially in the evenings. She know exactly when it's playtime, too. Your little dog is adorable. Sometimes I hide from her, and she loves to find me. Her favorite game is fetch with her squeaky tennis ball.

      Voted UP, etc. Mary

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      AliciaC, you have great taste in dog names. ;) These games are such an easy way to occupy your dog. And, of course, they love the treats. Thank you for sharing about your dog with me.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an enjoyable hub. My dog is called Misha too, although he's a male. He loves playing hide and seek for dog biscuits. He likes the challenge of the game, and of course he loves the reward!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      RaintreeAnnie, thank you for sharing that wonderful memory of your dog. I bet he felt very proud after finding the person, then carrying his Kong away.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 3 years ago from UK

      This reminded me so much of playing with our dog! He is passed now but oh we used to have such a lot of fun. He Loved hide and seek, but being a retriever it wasn't enough to find a person, he still had to have something to carry after finding, so the person always had to have a ball or kong or something to give him.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Thank you for the vote up, Elsie! You'd be surprise how much a dog enjoys playing. It does take a few tried for them to get the idea, but once they do look out. Misha runs around the house looking for her treats immediate after her last potty break and I haven't even had a chance to hide them yet. LOL

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Thank you for the vote up, Elsie! You'd be surprise how much a dog enjoys playing. It does take a few tried for them to get the idea, but once they do look out. Misha runs around the house looking for her treats immediate after her last potty break and I haven't even had a chance to hide them yet. LOL

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
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      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Goatfury, isn't it great fun? But, I am curious. How do you play tag with a dog?

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
      Author

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Goatfury, isn't it great fun? But, I am curious. How do you play tag with a dog?

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
      Author

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Goatfury, isn't it great fun? But, I am curious. How do you play tag with a dog?

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
      Author

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Goatfury, isn't it great fun? But, I am curious. How do you play tag with a dog?

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
      Author

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Goatfury, isn't it great fun? But, I am curious. How do you play tag with a dog?

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      I don't have a dog now, I used too. Loved reading about playing hide and seek with your dog, it really made me smile.

      I would never have thought about playing a game like that with a dog. Excellent, I voted it up.

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I do this at least once a day with our dogs! It's kind of half hide and seek, half tag, I guess. "Hide and seek tag"?

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image
      Author

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Thank you for you comment, Jaye! And, thank you for sharing that memory. My sister had a blind dog. They can be a challenge but they are also a joy to have in the family.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      This reminded me of the fun my own dog had with this type of game when she was younger and before she went blind. She is not very playful these days except in a more subdued way, but she once would run from room to room to find me or the grandchildren.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye