As an instructor who teaches scent detection classes for adults who want to teach their dogs a new skill, I wanted to offer something that children could also do to have fun with their dog.

Not only are these games fun, but this can help to build a stronger bond between your child and their dog.

Before you start, pick a command like “find it”, “search” or “seek”. Once you have a command you like, always use that same command for your dog.

Be sure to keep the games fun by always ending play after a successful search.  I would recommend not searching more than three different times. You always want to end the game before your dog gets tired of playing. This way, he will be eager to play again.

While you play with your dog, they will be getting a lot of treats.  Be sure the pieces are very small, the size of dog kibble. You can use your dog’s regular food if you want.

Here’s your first game…



  1. “Which Hand?” Game




  1. Sit in front of your dog.
  2. Put a treat in one hand and show it to your dog. Then enclose it in your fist.
  3. Keeping your hands about 12 inches apart, show both closed hands to your dog.
  4. Give your dog the search command you’ve chosen.
  5. If he sniffs the correct hand, open your hand and give the treat and lots of praise.
  6. If he gets it wrong, show him the correct hand, but DO NOT give him the treat. Just try again.
  7. Repeat the game, but switch hands.
  8. Remember, always give the treat and LOTS of praise when your dog is correct! 


  1. Under the Cup Search





  1. Put 3 cups or containers upside down in front of your dog.
  2. Show your dog the treat and then hide it under one of the cups. The first time, let your dog see which cup you hide it under.
  3. Give your dog the search command.



  1. Your dog should go immediately to the correct cup and either push it or knock it over to get the treat.
  2. If your dog is correct, given the treat and lots of praise.
  3. If your dog is not correct, lift the container and let him see the treat, but don’t let him get it. Give the search command again.
  4. After your dog successfully finds the treat a couple of times, start hiding it without your dog seeing which cup it under.


  1. Room Search




  1. Show your dog a treat.
  2. Either have your dog “sit/stay” or have someone hold her while you hide the treat in plain sight. Let your dog see where you put it so she will be successful.
  3. Return to your dog to give your search command.
  4. Your dog should run to the treat. When she finds it give lots of praise and let them have the treat.
  5. After several successful easy hides, try making it harder. You can place the treat under a magazine, under the edge of a cushion or pillow, under the corner of a rug — somewhere the dog can get to the treat, but not see it. 6. If your dog finds it, she gets the treat and lots of praise. If your dog is struggling, either she doesn’t understand, or you’ve hidden the treat too well! Since we always want the dog to be successful and love playing this game, you can go back to hiding the treat in plain sight and work up to harder hides. You can even try hiding it in a separate room from where she is waiting.


I hope you have fun playing these games with your child and dog!


For more fun games go to

Lesley is a professional member of the International Association of Dog Trainers and has for over 10 years and dog trainer for 16. She has a website called Kids-n-K9s and writes posts for parents to get help when it comes to kids and dogs.