With chocolate and hot cross buns strictly off limits for dogs, why not try a canine-friendly version of a traditional Easter egg hunt? Teaching the ‘Find it!’ cue and hiding toys and dog treats instead in a safe space can ensure your pets don’t miss out on the fun.
Last week we put on a dog-friendly Easter ‘egg’ hunt for some of our guide dog puppies and mums at the Reading Hub. The four puppies and two guide dog mums were able to put their noses to the test by seeking out the special treats on offer in an enclosed area, including some squeaky plush eggs.
Hollie, Sunny, Luker and little three-month-old Joshua were accompanied by their Puppy Raisers, as well as two guide dog mums, golden retrievers Poppy and Riley.
The activity was designed to raise awareness of the charity’s 12-month subscription programme Good Dog! that provides dog owners with training advice, easy-to-follow videos, and wellbeing tips.
During the Easter holidays, vets typically see a surge in cases of dogs who have accidentally eaten chocolate, which is extremely dangerous for dogs. Even though most dog-owners are aware of the dangers of Easter treats, dogs can still sniff them out, whether in the home, or in the garden during an egg hunt.
To help keep dogs entertained, National Dog Training Lead for Guide Dogs, Hannah Wright, reveals her top tips for creating an egg-cellent dog-friendly Easter ‘egg’ hunt at home:
Dogs naturally love to sniff and find treats and treasures, so don’t leave them out of the Easter fun. While hiding chocolate eggs is not a good idea when pets are around, a dog-safe version of an egg hunt can be set up by anyone as an enriching and exciting activity.
Start by teaching your dog the simple ‘Find it!’ cue. Hide a single treat under a cushion or plastic cup in front of them, and then encourage them to find it. Praise them when they locate and eat the treat.
Build up to hiding more toys or treats in different places and make it more difficult for them by having them in the next room while you set it up.
You can even do this outside with food as dogs love sniffing through long grass! But remember to check if your garden has dog-safe plants, as daffodils, especially the bulbs, are toxic to dogs.
Make sure you take the food from your dog’s daily allowance to prevent overfeeding. You can even build up to having your dog find a whole dinner – which is far more enjoyable compared to eating straight from a bowl.
Why not up the ante and get your dog to find a hidden toy or item and then ‘cash it in’ by returning it to you for a treat.
At Guide Dogs we have more than 90 years’ experience training dogs – and we know that training must be fun to get the best results! A dog-friendly Easter egg hunt is not only a mentally stimulating and engaging activity, but also a great way for your dog to learn something new and build a stronger relationship with you.
Our Good Dog! subscription programme gives lots of advice and games like this and allows pet owners an insight into how they can train their own dog like we train our guide dogs. Every penny goes to support our life-changing work supporting people with sight loss.
Hannah Wright, National Dog Training Lead