Border collie dog puppy runs happily with a toy and plays

Puppy behaviors that might need to be addressed could be caused by boredom or short attention span. Behaviors such as digging, chewing, general unruly behavior, not paying attention, and other bad habits might fall under this category.

An underused type of game that is appropriate for many terrier, hound, hunting and sporting breeds that will help with undesirable behaviors is “Find It.” You can play Find It games at many different levels.

If you have a dog that enjoys digging, you can create an area in your yard where you allow the activity. Buy a child’s small plastic swimming pool and fill halfway with playground sand. Bury any of the following depending on your dog: bones, rubber toys or other hard washable toys, tennis balls, or rubber balls.

If in-home games are what you’re looking for, hide smelly dog treats in different areas and teach the dog to hunt for those. Make sure they are safely placed so the dog won’t knock things over to find them. 

If your dog has a favorite toy, you can choose to hide that instead and have the dog search for it.

Then, of course, is the Find It game with people. Hide and Seek is the ultimate fun game for many dogs when played with their owners. Hide behind doors, furniture or around the outside of your house, and behind trees if the yard is secured. Dogs absolutely love to play this and it is a great way to work on your Recall commands.

Another game is to hide treats and toys under small plastic containers and place them around the house or yard. The dog not only has to find them but knock the containers over to get their reward.

Hide stuffed Kong toys in your yard or your home as a way to keep the dog busy when you are gone. Or, how about practicing some runaways by having someone hold your dog and you go hide outside? Your dog can track your scent in order to find you.

My personal favorite is hiding items in the yard and watching my dog go find them. Really smelly treats work wonderfully well. You can hide things at ground level and even in bushes or trees. Put them in a small bag or even an old sock. When they find the item, have them bring it to you and reward them with another treat or play with a toy when they drop the Find It object.

You have to begin by marking the ground with your scent by scraping your feet and planting a treat. Continue this as you work around your yard. Then your dog, on a leash or off leash in a fenced area can start searching for the items you’ve hidden. You can even stimulate your bored dog on a walk by hiding toys on your walking route, especially favorites. Use something that carries their scent and they will work hard.

These games stimulate their brain and body and will help bored dogs or those with very short focus skills. Vary the games and you and your dog will have great fun.

Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy.