It was rainy all Christmas day here in Toledo and my backyard is like a marsh. As you can see from this picture, I have a white dog, and pretty nice carpeting. A poodle wrestling match in the mud and the resulting mess was not my idea of a fun holiday.
So the dogs and I played a hilarious game of Hide and Seek. My husband was upstairs in his office and thought a herd of buffalos had invaded our house.
Here are some tips: First your dog needs a solid stay or wait. Wait for my dogs means "stay here for just a little while until I release you." A regular stay means "you'll be here for awhile, so just settle in until I release you."
So, I put all three dogs in a down and told them to wait. Now young miss Roxi, the service dog-in-training, would rather be working on tasks, versus staying in one position, so this was good practice for her. As she got more into the game, her waits became better. She figured out she couldn't be released until she layed quietly.
I then took one of their favorite toys and went and hid. I yelled "Free" and they came running. At first I made the game easy and celebrated by throwing the toy when they found me. Each time I made the game a little harder. I hid in a closet with the door open. I hid in a corner in the dining room. It was pretty dark in the house, so they had to work to find me. My scent is all over the house, so their nose wasn't as helpful as it would have been in a new environement.
They had a ball! I have to admit, I was pretty entertained, too. I made it difficult enough that sometimes they were just running in circles, so I gave short whistles to give them a clue. When they did find me, they'd dance and jump on me. Vino the cocker spaniel was the first to find me everytime.
What's really great is that their "Wait" performance got better and better. Their motivation was strong. They knew that the game didn't start if they didn't stay in position. If someone broke the stay, I'd take them back to the kitchen and put them back in position.
Best of all, they were exhausted at the end of the game and I had no mud in the house!