Egg hunts are a memorable springtime tradition for kids, but children aren’t the only ones who like hunting for treats. Setting up a dog-friendly “egg hunt” is a great way to test your pup’s sense of smell and scent game skills. Best of all, egg hunts can be assembled in your own yard, or even inside your home if you get creative with the space you’ve got. Egg hunts with your dog are a fun activity for the whole family, so long as safety remains a top priority. Here are some tips to help get your own canine egg hunt rolling this spring.
Assemble Your Dog-Friendly “Egg Hunt”
Any good plastic egg hunt needs at least two things – treat-filled eggs and willing participants. Plastic eggs are an ideal option for hiding little snacks for your dog. They can, however, pose some risks for dogs that you can avoid with some planning. Choose plastic eggs that are large enough to ensure that your dog cannot swallow them whole. If your dog insists on chewing on the plastic eggs, simply hide the treats around your home or yard without using them. You could also use another toy like a Kong as an alternative. The idea is the same, and the game is still just as fun and enriching.
Choose Your Dog Treats
Your dog relies on their nose to find rewards, so choose treats with an enticing smell that you know your dog enjoys. As you progress throughout the hunt, reward your dog for discovering new “eggs” or treats with an excited voice to keep them motivated. You may also want to select smaller-sized snacks, so your pet isn’t eating too many goodies in a short amount of time. Small, chewy treats that your dog can sniff out are a great egg hunt option. If your dog has a foundation in AKC Scent Work already, you can always have your dog hunt for scent instead of treats, and reward them accordingly when they find what the “egg” hides.
Watch and Manage Your Dog During the Hunt
If you’re doing your own “egg hunt” at home, and have your dog safely contained, then a leash is optional. For a publicly organized dog “egg hunt,” participants will likely have leash rules they must adhere to. The reason for this is that keeping your dog on a leash is usually required by law, but it will also help reduce the risk of accidental plastic egg ingestion. It also helps reduce the risk of unwanted interactions with other participants (human or canine) at a public event. Leashing your dog can also allow you to help guide your dog toward hard-to-find eggs or treats, whether in your own yard or at a public event. If you have your own fenced-in yard, off-leash egg hunts are OK, just be sure to watch and manage your dog to prevent them from ingesting anything you don’t want them to ingest.
Not all dogs enjoy hunting for eggs with other dogs around. Dogs with resource guarding behaviors, or who do not get along well with other dogs in general, would do better with an individual egg hunt that gives them more space to enjoy the activity. Just set up individual “egg hunts” with each dog’s favorite treats and create plenty of space in between each participant. Take turns if you have multiple dogs participating.
Not All Egg Hunts Are Created Equal
“Egg hunts” can be a fun, indoor/outdoor activity for the whole family, but just be certain you don’t mix up the chocolate you use for children’s egg hunts with your dog-treat “eggs.” Keep dogs inside and safely away from egg hunts when candy is involved so your dog doesn’t unintentionally ingest any human treat that could be toxic to them, or doesn’t sneak away with a plastic egg that a child may have dropped. You may also want to count your dog hunt “eggs” to make sure your dog has found them all. Doing this will ensure they don’t discover any later and chew up or swallow the plastic.
Now that you’re set with all the knowledge you need, about egg hunts, it’s time to get started. Happy hunting!