How to Train Your Dog to Treasure Hunt

In this article, we will take a look at how you can enrich the relationship between you and your dog by treasure hunting together. It’s a fun activity that is not only engaging, but a great way to spend some leisure time with your pup.

Below you will find some tips on how to easily train your dog to treasure hunt like a pro.

Lost Treasure Hunters - Rekindling Your Pups Wild Instincts 

Domestication is fantastic for providing dogs with a feeling of safety and comfort. However, they usually yearn for games that mimic challenge-reward scenarios, not unlike that of a treasure trail map. Whether it is prey treasure hunting, locating expensive truffles, or just finding snacks, searching for things is etched deeply into a dog’s genetic makeup.

Certain breeds like Golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and hounds used to be instrumental in helping humans hunt efficiently for hundreds of years. It’s no wonder that it comes so naturally for them to bring back sticks and toys of various kinds. 

Training dogs to treasure hunt is not so much about teaching them new tricks, as it is about reinvigorating natural behavior patterns. Such activities are not only guaranteed fun for both you and your dog, but they also act as a stimulus for aging pets to actively use their senses. If pursued right, it will keep your canine sharp and explorative.

5 Tips to Train Your Dog to Treasure Hunt

1. Start With the Basics

Firstly, it is a good idea to teach your pup to react to basic commands. Before asking your dog to learn to locate things, be sure that you have taught her the basics, such as sitting, staying, and coming.

Award your pup for every successful step in the training. It will set up the preliminary discipline and understanding in your dog that a well-fulfilled order will yield a treat.

2. Establish the Command

After you have the basics down, grab your dog’s favorite treat, and place it in her line of sight. Command your dog to sit, making sure that she stays still and doesn’t just rush towards the treat.

When the treat is in plain sight, clearly state a command of your choice to get the snack. It could simply be “hunt.”

Moreover, to emphasize your dog knows what you want, you can use gestures such as pointing to the treat to make her understand accurately.

3. Start Small

Once the command is established, have your dog sit in place and let her sniff the treat. Then hide the treat somewhere within the room.

Give the command you chose above and let your dog go after it. If your dog gets confused, repeat the given command. When first starting out it’s okay to help your dog with the treasure hunt by gesturing or pointing as to where the treat is.

However, it’s important to make sure your pup understands what the command you are using means - searching for a treat when it's hidden. When your dog is successful, be sure to award your pup with lots of praise and maybe an extra bit of treat.

4. Go Bigger

When you and your dog have mastered finding something hidden in the room, you can progress to hiding treats throughout your living space.

Have your dog do the same procedure and keep repeating the given command. When you dog struggles to find the treats, keep encouraging her to keep trying. Here you can use various inflections in your voice, pointing out a sense of urgency to keep her motivated.

After she finds each hidden item, be sure to award and pet her, expressing how proud you are of her accomplishments. It will build enthusiasm in your dog and ensure she has fun with the new activity.

5. Get Creative With It

After your dog gets used to finding stuff in the house, you can start thinking of how to organize a treasure hunt outside. Try switching up the things you want your pet to find.

You can let your dog know what you want to be found by giving her a sniff of the item. Have your dog sit, let her sniff the snack, and repeat the command you chose for the treasure hunt.

Then point for her to start searching. When switching up treats and giving your pup a test sniff, she might want to linger around, thinking you might just give her the treat.

Be sure not to give in. Here, persistence and patience are the name of the game – the secrets of a treasure hunt being successful.

Final Thoughts

You may find that your dog is filled with renewed vigor after trying to find the hidden treats. After all, dogs are natural hunters.

Although, it may come easier for some pups, don’t give up or become unmotivated if your dog doesn’t get it right away. Dogs are precious beings with characters of their own, and you may need to adapt the teaching methods to their specific inclinations. However, one thing is sure you and your dog won’t be bored for a while.

If you have any experience in training your dog to treasure hunt, we would love to know about them. Please share your tips in the comments below!

Additional resource: Treasure Hunting - A great activity for you and your dog.

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