Teach your pet to play Hide and Seek

How to teach your pet to play Hide and Seek

Intelligent animals love games.  They also enjoy solving puzzles. Anyone who’s ever watched their dog work out how to open the cookie cupboard or their cockatoo how to open their cage door can attest to this.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a dog who didn’t enjoy playing Hide-and-Seek.  And as a bonus: I don’t think I’ve ever met a child (or child at heart) who didn’t love playing Hide-and-Seek with their dog.

This game can be modified slightly to be played with any animal who has learned to come when you call him (cats, bunnies, parrots).  You’ll just have to call the animal instead of relying on the animal to find you voluntarily.  But hey, then you’re practicing recalls, so that’s even better!
cat in sheets

  • Begin in your home, with two people and your dog (or dogs!) on a leash.  One person has a few yummy treats.  This person will be the “hider” first.  The other has the dog on the leash and no treats.
  • The Hider steps away a few feet.  Stay close, and within plain sight.  We’ll start really, really, ridiculously easy at first.
    The person with the dog says, “where’s [insert name here]?” in an excited voice.  And waits.  And waits.
  • Eventually the dog will get bored and go to the Hider to see if he’s any more interesesting.  “Hooray!” you both cheer, and the Hider feeds your dog several little pieces of treat in a row! Your dog thinks, “wow, that was cool!”
  • Restart the game.  The Hider “hides” again, still VERY EASY and in plain sight, but perhaps he could step behind the sofa, or a few more feet away this round.
  • Person with the leash: “where’s [name]??”  Dog will hesitate a bit, and again seek out the Hider to see if he can milk some treats.  “Hooray, you’re such a smart dog!!!” and several small pieces of treat from the Hider.
  • Repeat, with GRADUALLY increasingly difficult hiding spots.  Don’t push it too fast, or your dog will feel he can’t “win” and give up.  At the same time, resist the urge to help your dog – let him figure it out!  He can do it, if you increase your difficulty slowly.  If you must help, have the Hider make a small noise, like a cough, to grab the dogs’ attention.
  • Switch hiders.  Now that your dog understands the game, he can be taught to seek out other people, too.
  • Take the game outside, to a fenced area, and repeat from the bottom (start easy, work to more difficult hides)
  • Have fun, and be safe!

Hints: if you train with more than one dog, chances are one will do the actual seeking, and the rest will just follow for their treat.  That’s fine, but if it bugs you, you’ll have to teach each dog to play the game independently, then put them together.
Many times you can fade out the treat after a while – some dogs will play this game for the simple joy of it.  But if they lose enthusiasm, go back to rewarding with a treat or a toy.  You’re playing to have fun, remember?
Children love this game, but make sure your dog is comfortable with kids before you let them handle him or her.


  1. This is the best game to play with any kid or animal – and it’s so much fun to see their little brain working when they’re looking in the usual spots and you’re not there. 😛

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