When you play with your dog, ensure your dog is always successful. If he is successful, he will be rewarded and enjoy playing games with you. Make it easy at first. Gradually increase the difficulty as your dog becomes more skillful.
Give the minimum intervention necessary to ensure success. If you need to help, resist the urge to do it for him, but simply help and encourage. For example, if he is hunting for a toy in long grass, do not point to it, but keep telling him to find it in different areas, gradually getting closer to the toy. Then he can find it himself. Your dog must be motivated to find the toy or treat that you have thrown or hidden. There is no point playing these games if your dog is not interested in the reward. We are asking him to put a lot of mental effort into this, so it must be worth his while to do so.
Make walks interesting for your dog and equally, ensure that there are no distractions during the early stages. Many dogs love these games and will ignore other dogs or people in order to play, but in the first stages play away from distractions. Do not try to control your dog too closely. If you are hiding a treat, either shut him away, fasten him up or get someone to hold him. Only make him sit and stay if he is already extremely good at this exercise. If you are telling him to sit and stay repeatedly, not only will it spoil your training, but it can quickly make the game lose its appeal.
Some of these games are easier if they are initially taught when the dog is on his lead. This way, you can ensure that he does not ‘cheat’, and if you are outside, he will not wander away if he gets distracted.
Make sure the game is fun. These games involve controlling your dog quite closely, so they are great for developing control. However, if you find that your dog is not interested, use less control and only begin to introduce this again when he is really hooked on the games.
Know your own dog. While many of these games are suitable for the vast majority of dogs, be aware of what suits your dog. For example, an older dog should not be hurtling around the woods. Take care if you own a dog who is possessive about food when playing games for treats. Many of these games can be adopted for dogs who have disabi1ities or are recovering from an operation or injury and therefore need limited exercise, but check with your vet if you are unsure. As with most things, the more you put in with your dog, the more you will gain. These games involve owner concentration, they cannot be played while you are doing something else. However, most dogs will love these games, and if you take the time to teach them to your dog, you will have far greater control over him.