Teach your dog the command ‘find it’

You could have your dog find anything. Treats or a toy work well. The reason I taught Ace this game was to challenge him to search for an object rather than play fetch where my dog obsesses over a ball.

To teach Ace “find it,” I had him sit outside in a baseball field. There were pieces of litter scattered around, and I picked up one piece of paper the size of a gum wrapper. I held it in front of him and said “smell.” At this point he had no idea what that meant but he naturally smelled it. Then I told him to stay and walked about 30 feet out and randomly walked in zig-zags and discretely dropped the paper so he didn’t know when or where.

I walked back to Ace, released him and said, “Find it!”

Beagle sniffing the grassSince Ace is naturally a retriever, he immediately went to work searching for this piece of paper, first making big circles and then gradually targeting in on where he smelled the paper. He found it within a minute or two and brought it to me. At this point he was already becoming fixated on the paper, so we ended our game. Since then, I’ve played “find it” with Ace once or twice every day on our walks using a random piece of trash like a bottle or piece of plastic. Since it’s pretty easy for him, I’ve been making it more difficult by burying the object in the sand or hiding it on playground equipment or in a bush.

The game doesn’t have to be played outside. Try teaching your dog to find a treat by making it really easy at first. It’s OK if she sees where you put it until she gets the hang of it. Once she figures out the game, you can make it more challenging.

Have you played “find it” or a similar game with your dog?

(Image from flickr.com)

12 thoughts on “Teach your dog the command ‘find it’”

  1. Cool! One of the things that we’ve been talking about doing to build enthusiasm for the dumbbell with the Shelties is hiding it in different places around the house and having them find it and bring it back to us. I’ll have to give it a try and see how it works.

  2. Biggie has always loved “find it” with his toys. (and “loved” for a kuvasz means he’ll play it as many as 3-4 times in a row) A variation – and something he likes even more – is hide and seek with kids, but of course he only seeks.

    Unlike Marie’s and Apryl’s dogs, though, he has to be shown the toy he is supposed to look for, and then put in a sit-stay while I hide it. We are not nearly advanced enough to be able to do “where’s your fluffy man?”

    Biggie-Zs last blog post..Training Momma

  3. castocreations hzk

    How did he know to go looking when you said find it? If I tried to have Trooper “find it” he’d look at me, go jump on the couch, and go to sleep. lol

    Now, if I ask him to “touch it” he knows what to do after MUCH practice. We’re still working on it. The good news is that this Sunday we move up to the Advanced Agility class!!!! WOOHOO!!! =D

  4. Lindsay Stordahl

    Casto, Ace is so focused on retrieving anything that he is very eager to go and find whatever I hide. It doesn’t matter what it is. It would be better to use treats or a favorite toy for a dog that is less motivated to retrieve or use its nose.

    I have not tried to teach Ace “touch it.”

  5. Find it is one of our favorite games. Hera and Apollo are smart enough to discern a couple of their toys from the others. They know baby, bear, dolly and snake. I can tell them to get each of those toys and they will bring the right one back about 70% of the time.

    Saint Lovers last blog post..Wag Fest

  6. Lindsay Stordahl

    St. Lover, Ace does not know his toys by different names. I think it would be fun to teach him to find specific toys like you did with your dogs. All he knows is “ball.” 🙂

  7. i love playing hide and seek with stranger but he won’t go looking for something he doesn’t care for, also depends on his level of attention

    K9 Amigas last blog post..Dog, a noun

  8. Our Lucy knows ‘Find The Ball’ which she, not I taught Chels. Both now bring it back and I throw or hide it…We never really taught Lucy, she was just eager to please and each time we made it more challenging to keep her from getting bored

    The technique you outlined is basically how you train drug sniffer dogs. I always joke I should train Chels to use at work…

    Abz & Chelss last blog post..Walkathon Day ??? Ahhh

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