Go beyond “Fetch” and teach your dog to “Find It.” With a little training along with praise and reinforcement, this game is great fun for you and your pup!
Your dog already knows how to fetch, so it’s time to up his game. Teach your pup the “Find It” command and he’ll keep busy seeking objects to bring you. This easy-to-learn command teaches your dog to seek out a favorite toy or other objects by name. Whatever it is, just say, ‘Find It’ and watch him go. Even more, spending time training your dog not only stimulates his mind and makes him more responsive, but it’s a great way to increase the person-to-pup bond. So give it a try.
Here’s how to teach your dog to ‘Find It’
Line up your dog’s favorite toy and a handful of unfamiliar and less sniff-worthy items on the floor. These can be household objects or anything your dog would be less interested in so it’s easier for him to make the right choice when first learning the game.
Next, point to all the objects and ask your dog to find the toy by using a specific name. For instance, “Find the ball.” Your dog will likely choose his ball, and when he does, shower him with praise, repeating the name of the object, “Good ball.” This is a good time to reward your dog with a treat too. But just make sure you don’t offer it within close range to the ball. This way, he’ll be more likely to associate the reward with the command, instead of the ball.
Steer your dog back to the items on the floor. This time, add a toy or another item that’s your dog’s favorite or one that he’ll recognize. Point to it and ask him to find the item by name. For instance, “Find the squirrel” (Note: we’re referring to stuffed squirrels and no squirrels were harmed during testing). If your dog does not understand the command, help him out by drawing attention to the item – point to it to you dog or go near it. Now alternate between asking your dog to find the two items. Repeat this exercise over and over, inviting your dog to “Try Again” and “Find the (item)” whenever he misses.
Keep the Game Fun
By keeping the game fun and never reprimanding your dog if he chooses the wrong item, he’ll soon recognize lots of objects by name and fetch them for you. Not only is this fun for the both of you, but it also challenges him mentally and expands his understanding of your vocabulary. Before long, you can even hide the items around the house for your pooch sleuth to find. Train him to play ‘Find it’ now and you’re set for the next rainy day. Just think, he’ll be so busy searching for things he won’t have time to nibble on your slippers.
See our past tip for more fun games to teach your dog.
Originally published May 2009; reviewed and updated August 2016.