Easter is fast approaching and with that comes oodles amount of fun things to do with your fur baby. This year I am planning on including our four legged family member in on the fun that is Egg hunting! With a few tweaks here and there, your dog can also enjoy using his powerful sense of smell to run around crazily looking for his Easter treats. Before you get too excited and start hiding things around the place, check out this list of things to consider to make sure the Egg hunt is safe and fun for everyone.
1. Safety first
If your dog is quick to swallow things he finds hidden before you can use the “leave it” command, a traditional plastic Easter egg might not be the best idea. Rather than plastic eggs, you can use stuff able dog toys, or simply hide his favourite food treats. Otherwise, if your dog has self-control and follows commands then feel free to purchase empty plastic eggs found in dollar stores that you can fill with their favourite treat, which also makes for a harder game.
2. Different hunts for your different children
If you’re creating a hunt for both dogs and kids, do them separately and account for all of the eggs afterwards. You don’t want your dog to find a chocolate Easter egg, as we know chocolate is toxic to dogs. Likewise, you may not want a child finding a pretty egg filled with dried liver. You can place a paw sticker on the dog eggs to visually separate them, or again, start the children’s egg hunt first followed by the dogs’ hunt. The same goes for more than one dog. If you have multiple dogs, make sure that they’re going to play nice. If you have a resource guarder (one who will growl or fight over treats), give each dog his own separate hunt.
3. Smelly treats
Scent games are great mental stimulation, fun, and a fantastic way to build upon your dog’s natural smelling skills! Your dog will likely find the Easter eggs using his scent, since that’s one of his strongest senses. Every dog has a different “nose talent.” If your dog is a talented sniffer, you might be able to use his regular treats, but most dogs will need the help of stinky treats to aid in the game. To make it easier to smell his treats, poke holes in the top of the eggs (gently, because they crack easily), or smudge a bit of peanut butter on the outside. If your dog isn’t familiar with scent games, put the plastic egg out in plain sight and click or reward (depending on your training style) when your dog shows interest in the egg. It’s best to open the egg yourself because you don’t want Rex to end up chewing or cracking them into dangerous pieces.
4. Hidden eggs
Let your dog sniff and enjoy the first egg. Sprinkle the eggs around your floor or the yard, and let your dog have fun finding these easy treats. Next, lead him to the first well-hidden egg. After the third or so hidden egg, he should start to understand the game and begin searching. It’s OK if he doesn’t. You might have to lead him to every egg you’ve hidden. Not only is this a super-fun holiday game, it’s also a great, low-key DIY introduction to the canine sport of scent work. As your dog gets more familiar with the scent game, start hiding the dog treat-filled eggs in increasingly difficult locations, and start associating a cue to go search for the egg. Eventually, you can send your dogs out of the room, hide all the eggs, and tell them to find them one by one. Reward with treats during the hunt so they don’t get frustrated and bored.
5. Remember to clean up
If you’ve hidden 12 plastic eggs, make sure that you have accounted for 12 eggs when the game is over. If you aren’t likely to remember where you hid them, write down all of your hiding spots. You don’t want your dog, another animal or even your children to find the egg later and chew it unsupervised. Be sure to watch your dog around all the chocolate bunnies and hidden candy treats. Even if you aren’t hiding candy at your house, stay aware of what your dog gets into on walks over the next few weeks. Not to mention, the foil wrappers for Easter bunnies and other holiday candies can be harmful if swallowed.
If an Easter Egg hunt for your dog isn’t your thing, then why not gift them with a Easter basket filled with all their favourite toys and treats that they can enjoy on the day. Don’t forget extra love, attention and play time is all they really need as an extra Easter treat.