Find it

Overview:

Find It” is a great basic game that can be used in many different setting and situations.  The final product is a dog who, when cued to “Find It” will search the ground for treats or toys.  The value of training this as a skill is gaining the ability to quickly and consistently get your dog’s attention and focus it on a particular task.  This foundation skill can be used in a variety of settings including addressing reactivity, preventing resource guarding, building impulse control, handling emergency situations, and even just cleaning up crumbs under the table.

The Process:

Pick a calm and quiet location where your dog won’t be easily distracted.  Take a small handful of tiny treats (or kibble if your dog loves his/her food).  When you have your dog’s attention, say “Find It” once loud and clear and then IMMEDIATELY toss your treats to the ground.  Bend down and point out bits of treats on the floor to help your dog find every crumb.

Helping your dog by pointing out some of the treats gets your dog used to someone’s hand being near the food, and also teaches your dog to think of you as helpful, rather than competition, when treats have dropped to the ground.

Once your dog has found all the treats wait a few moments and then repeat your “Find It” and tossing treats.  As your dog catches on to this game, start to wait until your dog is not paying attention or is a little preoccupied with something else.  See if you can surprise them with your cue “Find It” and have them immediately switch gears and get busy hunting for the treats.

Gradually you can increase the difficulty by practicing in new locations and increasingly distracting situations/settings.  If you are working in a very distracting setting or a situation, be sure to use very high value treats the first few times.  Make it easy for your dog to get it right, stop everything else, and focus on finding the food.

Examples:

Domesticated Manners has a great video in which they use a version of “Find It” as a tool for teaching a dog to “Drop” and object on cue.  In the video the trainer uses the word “Drop” in place of the word “Find It” but the technique is the same.