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Find It! May 23, 2011

A wonderful exercise to teach – fun for the dog and for the owner – is “Find It.” At its most useful, it distracts the dog away from another dog or human.

To teach the exercise, put a treat on the ground, and say, “Find it!” After a few minutes of doing this, begin to throw the treats on the ground, or hide them behind doorways and under chairs. Then begin walking, and throw a treat on the ground in front of you and say, “Find It.” As the dog is finding it, begin walking away. She’ll get the treat and hurry to catch up to you. As she does, give her a voice signal to walk with you (“Heel,” “With Me,” whatever you like to use!) Do that again and again. The dog is either looking for the treat or looking at you. This gives her no opportunity to pick a fight! I like to do this with the dog on leash, taking great care NOT to pull the leash. The dog should learn to watch you – you should not be pulling him after you.

This can be extended to include the “Recall” or “Come” exercise. Throw the treat, and just as she’s picking it up, call her name. When she looks at you, say “YES,” (marker word) and hold a treat for her to come and get. Do it again and again. After she starts to be reliable, you can add the word, “Come.”

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