When my brother and I were young, my mother used to hide chocolate eggs for us in the garden (or when the weather was bad, imside). Of course it’s been ages since we did this since we’re all “adults” now (last Easter we convinced her to do it again for me, my brother and my partner, because it’s still fun). But someone in our house is still a bit of a child: Doggy. He’s almost 6 years old and he loves to search for treats.
When he’s asked to go into the corridor, he already knows what’s going to happen. Excitedly he’ll go in there, (watch out for the wagging tail) pretending to be patient. Or maybe he is, because he knows how much fun he’ll have within 10 minutes. Sometimes we’ll check the windows of the door, because no peeking allowed (but he knows that)! Usually he can’t wait that patiently without someone around (he even sits), so I wonder how he keeps himself calm. Maybe he has a mantra for himself or has another way to prepare himself physically and mentally.
When he comes out, he’s a different kind of dog. He’s a serious grown-up dog, a rescue dog with an important goal, a matter of life and death: finding the doggy treats. His tail which is usually low, is now rolled up high. Focus. A few test rounds with his sniffer. And then: action. The sniff sounds he’ll make are extremely loud, like a steam train. He thinks he’s quite good at it. We don’t want to tell him we actually think his nose apparently always has a cold. But he likes it and we like it too and provide him with some mental support, during his search duty (yay, well done, go find the other ones)
[Image of a Jack Russel Terriër dog standing up straight and holding a magnifying glass for one of his eyes].
We do not only have ‘words/commands’ for him so he knows he has to go into the corridor or can start sniffing (as if he needs a word for that). We also have one when he’s finished. Otherwise, he would probably never stop and that would be sad. When he can’t find any (because he already walked past it 10 times), he’ll look up at us. Asking if we are sure that there are still treats. Despite the mental support, we might help him a bit more, with a pointing finger. I’m not sure if he normally understands people pointing around (never payed attention to it), but I always learned animals don’t understand that. Well, Samurai Doggy is in a special focus mode, so he does understand and he will rush towards the area we pointed out.
When he found them all, he’s our hero and gets cuddles and praises. What’s not to like? Treats, cuddles, praises, an audience and an important job to help out your Hippos. Oh and he’ll casually, absolutely not suspicious or obvious, walk around and to some places again. With his nose a tiny bit low and a few licks on areas he found treats. You never know right?
He’s very energetic and also seems to be an intelligent dog. He enjoys mental stimulation. It seems to tire him more than physical (such as running around the forest) and is a nice change. If you have a dog, maybe you can try this out as well. We break the dog treats in very small pieces, so he won’t have a lot. An idea is to not only hide things on the ground, but also go for higher places (which the dog can still reach). It might take a moment before they grasp this 😉 We once even put one on the automatic vacuum (which is very low) while it was moving. It was a lot of fun, Doggy following the thing (without realizing that!) in a zig-zag pattern. Sometimes going back, because he didn’t quite understand at the beginning. His eyes when he found it were just marvelous!