K9sOverCoffee | How I Play Hide & Seek With My Dogs To Tire Them Out

How to Play Hide & Seek With Dogs

Hide & seek with dogs, anyone?!

One of my favorite games to play with the pups is Hide & Seekespecially on crappy days when most of our time is spent indoors. 

I remember playing it quite a bit as a kid and like it a lot for the pups as well because it ticks off several boxes. 

For one, it engages them on a mental level since they have to concentrate on listening to my commands.

It also challenges them on an olfactory level since the pups have to rely on their noses to sniff me out.

Last but not least, it’s good physical exercise since they’re running around the house, including up-and downstairs.

How I Play Hide & Seek With Dogs To Tire Them Out

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What You’ll Need For Hide & Seek with Dogs

I typically allot 10-15 minutes for a session of Hide & Seek, but you can obviously go for longer sessions, too.

Your pup(s) will need to know the “stay” command and you’ll need something your dog is willing to work for. 

For my pups, the clear answer to that one is TREATS! If your dog isn’t food motivated, you can also use a favorite (squeaky) toy.

I use a dog treat pouch to carry them around the house with me, but of course it’s not a necessity. I just like the convenience of being able to strap it around my waist and reach into the bag as I go to reward the pups. 

In case you’re wondering what kind of treat bag I use – it’s the treat pouch by Mighty Paw which I recently reviewed.

You Can Get Mighty Paw's Dual Handle Dog Leash, Treat Pouch, & Poop Bag Holder For Less Than $50 With Free Shipping
Mighty Paw’s dog treat pouch & other walking gear

We Play Hide & Seek in 5 Easy Steps

5 easy steps to play hide & seek with dogs

Step 1: I Tell Missy & Buzz To “Stay”

This game starts with a good ol’ “stay” command. I usually tell the pups to go into their respective crates and “stay” in there. We’ve played this game so many times that they know to wait for my release which, in this case, is “Come find Mommy”. 

If you need a few pointers on how to teach your dogs a “stay” command, check out my post below to see how I taught it to Missy & Buzz:

Training A Solid Down-Stay Command

Silly pups switched crates!
Missy & Buzz (not) in their respective crates – they switched it up some!

Step 2: I Go Hide Myself Somewhere Inside The House

This is where the fun begins – I hide myself somewhere inside the house.

Some of my favorite spots are:

  • in bathtubs
  • behind curtains
  • inside closets
  • behind furniture

I also hide inside the pups’ crates.

Obviously this is only going to work for you if your dogs are large to extra large.

Other hiding spots are behind doors, under the dining room table and, if I want the pups to work extra hard, in my bed under the covers or in my car in the garage.

Step 3: I Call My Dogs & Tell Them To “Come Find Mommy”

As mentioned above, I release the pups from their “stay” by saying “Come Find Mommy” in a happy, loud, upbeat voice.

Use whatever word or phrase you want your dogs to associate with finding you. You could just call them by using their names or saying “come” if that works better for you. 

Just remember to convey pure happiness in your message – no dog is going to feel inclined to come your way if you sound pissed or angry.

Step 4: I Reward The Pups With Tasty Treats For Finding Me

Here’s the part that Missy & Buzz love best – their food rewards!

Depending on the size of the treat I use when we play the game, they’ll get one or two bites whenever they find me.

I use a number of single-ingredient treats for the pups, typically freeze- or air-dried ones. 

Favorites are anything by Real Dog whose monthly single-ingredient treat box we are subscribed to.

But also limited-ingredient ones like Instinct Raw by Nature’s Variety and Live Pawsitive’s single-ingredient treat selection.

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A post shared by K9sOverCoffee 🐕☕️ (@k9sovercoffee)

Step 5: Repeat Several Times

Once the pups have claimed their reward, I tell them to sit or down-stay where they found me and go to my next hiding spot.

We typically play this game for 10-15 minutes, then go take a potty break, and then the pups will relax on the couch. 

Depending on my schedule, I either join them or do whatever I have to do. The beauty of this game is that it burns a nice amount of physical AND mental energy and leaves the pups somewhat pooped and ready for a nap.

How to Play Hide & Seek with Dogs: Bottom Line

The pups and I have been playing this game for 5+ years. When we first started playing it, we lived in an apartment.

While we didn’t have any stairs for some added physical benefit like we do now, it worked perfectly fine there as well. 

It’s a good indoor boredom buster and works well to practice some basic obedience. For example, the “stay” and “come” commands.

If you’d like to take it up a notch, you can also take this game into your yard! This is going to be more difficult for your dogs because of the outdoors distractions.

Give it a shot either way and let me know how it went! As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!

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    Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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    8 responses to “How to Play Hide & Seek With Dogs”

    1. Colby Avatar
      Colby

      What a fun game for the dogs! I’m not sure if you’ve tried K9 Nosework, but it’s also a fun game to play indoors with your pups. Stetson is a champ and he can already find the odor Birch. It’s a lot of fun watching your dog use his nose. Stetson is so dramatic you can always tell when he catches the scent. He’ll immediately put on the breaks or make a quick u-turn to try and pinpoint whatever he’s sniffing out.

      1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

        Thanks Colby, it really is fun for humans & K9s alike 😉 I haven’t tried K9 Nosework! I’ve read about it on My GBGV’s blog and found it interesting for sure. Very cool to hear that Stetson does that, too. By the way you described him, he must look adorable when he’s busy doing his Nosework. So far, I’ve only let the pups sniff out treats I dropped in the yard. Differentiating between those odors would definitely take them to a whole other level.

        1. Colby Avatar
          Colby

          Stetson was searching for odor and he stopped so suddenly he did a hand stand on his front legs. I’m glad he didn’t blow out his elbow. Take a look at the second pic on this blog post: https://puppyintraining.com/why-your-guide-dog-puppy-should-not-be-confused-for-a-sniffer-dog/. If you can find a K9 Nosework class in your area I highly recommend it.

          1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

            BOL! Although I am glad that he didn’t hurt himself, of course. Just checked it out and totally pinned it, haha! I will make a big mental note re the Nosework classes.

    2. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
      Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

      This sounds like so much fun and I’m always looking for ways to wear Luke out on days we don’t get outside as much. I’m going to need to work on Cricket’s stay though. It’s not rock solid, and if I leave the room with treats on me, she’s definitely going to follow!

      1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

        Lol, Cricket’s Beagle nose can’t be fooled into staying away from her treats, huh?! You could start getting her used to this game with baby steps. Maybe have your hubby or other family member/friend reward her for staying put (even if she’s standing instead of sitting or lying down) while she sees you disappear around a corner.

    3. Lindsay Stordahl Avatar
      Lindsay Stordahl

      This is so cute, I love the pictures of them sitting there for their rewards after finding you. Their faces are so cute! Missy looks so small next to Buzz and his little teeth are always sticking out! Haha! I haven’t played this with Remy but I have played it with Ace. I’m going to have to try this again!

      1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

        Thank you, Lindsay! Haha, she truly is his Mini Me and about 20 lbs lighter than him (she was the runt of their litter, and he was one of the bigger pups). Once you’ve played it with both, you should take a video and share it on social! I’d love to share it 🙂

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