Does the Easter Bunny visit your puppy? Your Easter plans have probably shifted this year because of the pandemic, but you can still give your dog a fantastic holiday at home with an Easter egg hunt.
Related: If the Easter Bunny Were the Easter Dog
Having an Easter egg hunt for your dog is not only fun to watch, but rewarding for dogs. Dogs see the world primarily through their nose, so the hunt is a great source of mental stimulation. Dogs use their noses to locate eggs filled with treats. Dogs of any age from puppies to seniors and dogs of any size can enjoy Easter egg hunts.
You’ll need these supplies for the egg hunt:
If you don’t already have plastic eggs at home, they are available from most retailers for curbside pickup or for including in your to be delivered grocery order. Most plastic eggs have a small hole in the top, which makes it much easier for the scent to travel from the egg so that your dog can more easily find it.
Pick any treats that your dog is excited about. You don’t need to use a big piece of treat, one small treat per egg works well. Smelly treats are a particularly good choice for this game because it will make it easier for your dog to find. Fill as many eggs as you want you can do just a few or a whole dozen completely up to you.
Dog Easter egg hunt directions:
Egg hunts for your dog can take place anywhere, inside your home, or in a fenced yard if the weather is nice.
- Fill the Easter eggs with high-value and smelly treats. Let your dog watch you put a treat in each egg.
- While your dog is occupied in another room or inside, set up the egg hunt. Be sure to count how many eggs you are putting out; it’s even a good idea to keep a list of places where you hide the eggs to make sure you don’t misplace the eggs in any of their hiding places!
- Start with easier searches where the plastic eggs are in obvious places or even out in the open where your dog will easily come across them.
- The more experienced your dog gets with searching for eggs, you can start to hide the eggs in trickier locations behind things, etc., but in locations that it is safe for your dog to get to (no high-up hides, etc.)
Some dogs, when they find the filled Easter eggs will mouth or paw them open to get to the treat, while other dogs will naturally be more patient and wait for your help to get to the treats inside. If your dog is like mine and pops the egg open to get the treats, just supervise extra closely as eggs get found and take away the empty plastic eggs if your dog begins to chew on them. This is a game that you can play again and again on Easter day or anytime during the Easter season. Just change the locations where you hide the eggs!
Always supervise your dog on the egg hunt. If you are doing any other egg hunts with candy-filled eggs, do that egg hunt at a separate time and make sure that you know how many eggs for your kids are out as well to ensure that your dog doesn’t accidentally find any eggs full of candy.
If you have multiple dogs, it’s a good idea to set up individual hunts. This game could inspire resource guarding as dogs race between eggs.
Photo: Sassafras Lowrey
Get the perfect Easter photograph of your dog
“Hold” is a useful trick for capturing the perfect Instagram photo.
- Easter basket
- Clicker (if you are clicker training)
- Have your dog facing you and hold the Easter basket out to your dog.
- When your dog sniffs at or explores the basket, praise/click and give a treat. At this stage, we are rewarding any interaction with the basket.
- Next, wait for your dog to put his mouth on the basket handle, then immediately click or verbally mark with a happy “yes” and give a treat.
- Repeat over several training sessions.
- Once your dog is regularly putting his mouth onto the handle of the Easter basket, you can start to wait a fraction of a second longer before clicking/praising and treating.
- Go very slowly with this trick, building the duration of your dog having his mouth on the Easter basket for just fractions of seconds longer each time. At this time, you can start to introduce your verbal cue of choice like “hold” or “take.”
- Once your dog is confidently keeping his mouth on the Easter basket until you click/praise and treat, start to pull your hand away from the basket for a fraction of a second then put your hand on the basket click/praise and treat.
- Each training session slowly increases the duration for how long you ask your dog to hold the Easter basket. Quick as a bunny, you’ll be getting that perfect holiday picture!
Eggs in the basket
Teaching dogs to put the plastic eggs into the Easter basket combines the “hold” trick you just taught with a “drop” and some aiming toward that basket!
- Easter Basket
- Plastic Eggs (or anything else you want your dog to put in the basket)
- High-value treats
- Follow the above instructions for teaching your dog to hold the Easter basket with plastic eggs or anything else you would like your dog to put into the Easter basket.
- Ask your dog to “hold” the Easter egg and put the Easter basket under your dog’s mouth.
- If your dog knows “drop,” use that cue. If they don’t, put a treat in front of his face when the egg falls from your dog’s mouth into the basket. Give lots of praise/treats and have a little party.
- You can start to add in verbal cues like “into the basket,” “basket,” “egg hunt,” or any cue of your choice.
- After a few training sessions, your dog will get the idea that you want him to drop eggs into the Easter basket, but remember the aiming can be a bit tricky!
- You can slowly begin to build your dog’s skills by asking your dog to pick up the plastic eggs instead of handing them to your dog, and by slowly moving the Easter basket a bit further away.
Note: Remember for your dog’s safety, don’t ever leave your dog unattended with Easter baskets or plastic eggs.
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