This Easter, Guide Dogs reveal how dog owners can create the paw-fect dog-friendly ‘egg’ hunt for their four-legged friends at home.
The sight loss charity designed a dog-friendly Easter egg hunt for their current cohort of guide dog puppies and mums, that’s not only enriching but also a fun training activity. The four puppies and two guide dog mums, who are all from different families, were able to put their noses to the test by seeking out the special treats on offer.
Hollie, one-year-old female yellow Labrador-golden retriever cross, Sunny, nine-month-old female yellow Labrador Retriever cross, Luker, five-month-old female black Labrador cross, and Joshua, three-month-old male black Labrador, were accompanied by their volunteer Puppy Raisers, as well as two guide dog mums, Poppy, and Riley (golden retrievers), who provided a watchful eye over the pups as they sought out the treats.
As part of the egg-stra special hunt, Guide Dogs staff hid toys and treats in an enclosed space outside for the dogs to eagerly sniff out.
During the spring holiday, vets typically see a surge in cases of dogs who have accidentally eaten sweet treats that are bad for them, including chocolate, which is extremely poisonous to 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 and away from sweet and tempting dangers, 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:
1. 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.
2. 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 the treat.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Hannah Wright, National Dog Training Lead for Guide Dogs, says: “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.