Hide and Seek For Hounds

An Excerpt From Ouch! The Ten Simple Steps - That Really Work - To Stop Your Dog's Biting

Let slip the hounds of war! Don't have a hound of war? Then let slip the Pups of Hide 'N' Seek.

    This game of Find The Hidden Human thrills your pup's inner hunter. He zings through the house using his nose and ears to ferret out his human who lies buried under the blankets on the bed, scrunched up at the end of the bathtub (pull the shower curtain) pressed up against a slightly opened door or hidden under the stairwell.

    Puppies who investigate their big new world satisfy their innate need for novelty and are less apt to shred, bite and rip your arms. Owners crave a pup whose biting is in check.


How To Play Hide N Seek with your pup;

What you'll need

You. Your puppy. A human helper. Don’t have a helper? Use dry kibble instead. The kibble won't complain or kvetch so, on second thought, ditch the helper and grab the kibble.

The pup needs to stay put while you scamper to your hiding place. When he's a little older and has learned to " Stay," he'll do it without kibble but for now, a helping handful does the trick.

 To keep  your eager little hunter in the dining room while you dive into the closet, scatter a few pieces on the floor. Let it roll! Don't arrange it in a tidy tableau or in a bowl. Scattered pieces of kibble means the pup searches all around the dining room table, giving you time to make your escape.

Begin the game with easy-to-find places. Sit on your bed. Stand in the center of another room. Now call your pup in a voice that rings with "Hey! Little hunter pal! Come find me!"

Your pup looks up from his kibble snack and thinks, "Huh? I recognize the voice! But where o where has my owner gone?"

Pups begin the search immediately. Keep calling. He needs an auditory trail to follow. Timid pups become frightened the first time they realize they are alone in the big, wide dining room with only Great Aunt Ada's  credenza for comfort. The more  your reassuring voice floats through the house the faster your pint size-predator reaches safety.

When he rounds the corner and spies you on the bed or smack dab in the middle of the bathroom it's "Hooray! Time." You sure don't need a food reward; what's better than reuniting with a trusted owner? Congratulate him verbally and tell him he is the smartest and best dog in all the land.

He'll trot around the house with tail and head high knowing he's the King Of Hide 'n' Seek. When he comes to Puppy School he can brag about his exploits to  his little friends.

As the weeks goes on make your hiding places increasingly difficult. We all like to progress in our hobbies. Once your little pup learns this game he'll love it forever.

My own dogs thrived with this game. Their favorite, or at least my favorite, was to burrow under the covers on the bed. The dogs would run into the bedroom and get the auditory and scent cues that I was there. But... where? They could not see me, which threw them into a doggie tizzy. Eventually they'd realize the giggling lump under the spread was me and launch themselves onto the bed.

A mad scene ensued with a growling, play-biting dog tackling the laughing (and well-protected) human. If their play bites through the bedspread were too hard the game stopped. If their jumping back, over and around was accompanied only with acceptable pressure the game, and laughter, continued.

My Pomeranian, Gladys, played Hide 'N' Seek with enthusiasm. Her tiny legs worked overtime as she raced around corners. Maybe your pup will prefer chess but give Hide 'N' Seek a chance before you bring out the board.

Got a human clamoring to help? Have them sit down on the floor with the pup and restrain him by the chest, not the collar. As your pup revels in the excitement of the game he'll strain at the collar which might damage his neck. When you call out "Ready!" the helper releases his hands from the pup's body and watches the canine rocket shoot into space.

Children love this game. Bolder kids can be the Hider. A racing pup encountering a child hidden in a small space can be frightening. More timid kids can help an adult hold the pup or watch from the safety of the top of the dining room table. A wriggling, yapping and fast-moving pup can be a lot to feel safe around if you're only three feet high.

My Rough Collie, Katy, played this game in many a training demonstration during the years we traveled together. Once in Canada we changed the impression our neighbors to the North had of American trainers.  I left Katy on a Stay at one end of the enormous hall. I then had the audience of about three hundred stand. I hid at the other end of the hall while the audience talked and moved around. The astonished Canadians were treated to the racket that only a Collie can make following a "Ready!" called out in my coloratura soprano voice. Katy wove through the crowd like a tricolor sylph, barking and running at equal speeds.


Good times.

BooksSue Myles