Shell Game

If you have a clever, scheming dog, he or she will love this game.

This is essentially the shell game you’ve seen on the street or in movies. In your dog version,

  1. Get 3 containers: cups, bowls, plant pot, small bucket, plastic tubs, anything not see-through. Use unbreakable ones, in case an excited dog starts knocking them around a bit.
  2. Get treats or a favorite dog toy. If treats, the smaller the better (cheese, liver treats, etc.) If a toy use one that he has played with. It will have his scent.
  3. Get on the floor, set up your “shells” and let you dog watch you hide the item under one of the “shells”.
  4. Shuffle the shells around
  5. Ask your dog to find his toy

Dog Game - Shell GameNote: Your dog is not actually watching the shells, but using his scenting abilities to find the prize.

To teach the game for the first time.

Part 1
  1. Get on the floor with your dog and just one bowl (or shell) and some treats. Treats work better when teaching the game, but you can move on to toys once your dog gets the hang of it.
  2. Place the treat under the bowl which is upside down on the floor.
  3. Tell your dog to “Find It!”
  4. If he has trouble finding it, tip the bowl slightly so he can nose into the space between the pot and the floor.
  5. Praise him and let him grab the treat.
  6. Do this same method a few times until he gets it. At the point that he gets it:
    1. he paws the right bowl and you lift it.
    2. use a bowl or cup shape that is easy for him to knock over

Do part 1 a few times over the next few days, depending on how fast your dog is getting it. Wait until he has Part 1 before moving to Part 2.

Part 2
  1. Set up the same way you did as in Part 1.
  2. Add a second bowl with nothing under it.
  3. Do not shuffle the pots yet.
  4. Ask your dog to “Find it!”
  5. When he does, encourage him. Only lift the bowl if he is sure, not for guessing or exploring. If  he has trouble, lift the bowl slightly to let him get a smell, but put it back down so he can guess.
  6. Repeat a few times during this session.

When your dog is finding the treat every time, move on to Part 3.

Part 3
  1. Place 2 bowls upside down on the floor.
  2. Let  your dog watch you put a treat under one.
  3. Shuffle the bowls without picking them up.
  4. Ask your dog to “Find It!”
  5. Praises when he does, encouragement to keep looking when he doesn’t.

When it looks like your dog is getting it, add a third bowl. Have fun!

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