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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,
I just joined the forum, so forgive me if there is already a topic about this that I didn't see.

I have a 16 week old puppy who I taught to play hide and seek in the house, since it is too cold to spend significant time outside playing fetch. I started by putting her in the crate and just hiding one treat. She learned how to sniff out the treat on cue, and went back into the crate in between each treat. In order to keep her occupied longer, I started hiding about ten treats at a time, so that she wouldn't finish so quickly. But I've created a monster!

She will keep sniffing around, even after she's found all the treats. I don't know how to teach her when the game is over! I can obviously say "game over", but I don't know how to associate that with something she understands, so that the words come to mean something. I can't just put her in the crate, because when she comes out, she thinks a new game has begun.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! I feel terrible watching her sniff for nothing.
 

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Don't feel bad that she sniffs for nothing-- she's keeping herself amused and that is always a good thing! You will be in hot water, however, if she takes the foraging to levels of digging / chewing and otherwise turning the house upside down for treats.

The family dog (pomeranian) gets really, really REALLY excited over food so to prevent him from exploding where there are no treats left to be earned, we hold our empty hands up and say 'all done'. After that, there's no more treats; the opportunity to earn them has expired and he can go off and amuse himself with whatever else. Its easiest to get the message across at first while you are training, because she doesn't have to search the house 5x over to discover that there are no treats left. I would practice by employing 'all done' at first during training sessions, then take it to 'hide and seek'. Immediately after you say it, try re-routing her activity to anything that doesn't involve looking for food: playing with a brand-new toy, going outside, taking a walk, etc.
 

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I agree - it's not necessarily a bad thing that your dog keeps sniffing around as long as she's not being destructive. Also, depending on how long/often you hide treats in certain places, she may still smell the scent even though there's no treat there and that could be attracting her. And, your trigger may be the crate too. Try penning her in a bathroom or other small area while you hide the treats, and only put her there when you're setting up the game. That will teach her the difference between play time and the regular out-of-create routine.

But it seems like your dog would enjoy scent work! I'm no expert but I know that people who train in scent work often use a specific container for the treats. So, instead of hiding 10 treats around the house, they will get 10 shoeboxes (or whatever container) and just hide treats in one or two boxes. The rest of the boxes stay empty. Then when your dog sniffs through and finds the boxes with the treats, you can do it again and mix up the boxes. When you're not playing, the boxes go away. That may help the association between when it's game time and when it's not - she'll start to learn that the shoeboxes mean it's time to sniff for treats, rather than coming out of her crate. Good luck with whichever route you go!
 

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Thanks for the great advice! I did try that today. I said "all done" after we played tug. She could clearly tell that tug was over, so hopefully the association will form soon.
 

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Thanks for the tips! The boxes seem like a great idea. One of the issues is that we have a small apartment, and she can't go in the bedroom alone because she is still house training. Basically, she can't get away from the smell, even after she finds the treats. The boxes would help her identify when the game was going better. I would love to get her involved in more scent work, she is only 15 weeks old and already loves it. We have to wait for it to warm up outside more though, so she has more room to practice.

We originally did use the bathroom as the cue for the game beginning, but she had an accident one time, so that is why the crate came in.
 

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They figure this out eventually. One thing that can help is playing the game in one part of the house, then leaving the area while saying "all done" or whatever your cue is. Then take the dog away. She should learn that "game over" means searching is done and you'll be helping her by physically removing her from the area so she can't keep searching.

If you want to stay in the same room, just say your "game over" cue and then go sit on the couch acting super boring, or even leave the room. Somehow show her that there's nothing else going on. You could also take her out for a walk, transition to playing a different game, or giving her a chew toy.

It's common for them to just search and search at first, but they do learn when the game is over.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Elrohwen! I guess I was worried that I was driving her crazy and she would never figure it out. Glad to hear that it will come with time. I can't go into another area of the house, unfortunately, but I can sit on the couch or take her outside. I'll try those.
 
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