The funny thing is, I’ve played this game with ALL of my dogs as an ADULT – true “adulting” if you ask me! Dogs can help us get into THEIR world when we play games with them. It helps us to bond with them and build trust as well as train in a fashion they respond to very well. The two dogs that I’ve had the absolute MOST fun playing this game with have been my former Neo Mastiff Shadrach and now my 15 month old Carolina Dog, Ezra.
Ezra and I alternate dodging, hiding, seeking and finding each other. There is no real format other than to exert energy, play, and bond. It’s as much fun for me as for him! Honestly it makes me feel MUCH younger than my multiple decades. Dogs do help us stay in shape, especially insecure, dependent dogs like Ezra who won’t go play alone no matter what. So that means I get away from the desk multiple times per day and also go outside with him for long walks twice daily so he can run, zoom, dash, hide, chase – you know all the dog things they love to do, especially when they’re young.
With Shadrach the game was always me hiding and him seeking – there wasn’t any dodging either. It was a simple game and I often had to do a “woof woof” call to him for him to find me. It wasn’t because he wasn’t super smart, because he sure was. One of the best dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure to share my life with. It just wasn’t his specialty lol. He played just to be playing with me I think. I have always enjoyed a good game of hide and seek and I’m grateful I got to play it with him.
With Ezra, it’s a whole other ball game! It doesn’t matter what I incorporate into the game, before very long Ezra has not only figured it all out but mastered it and trumped me! He also inserts his own version of this game all the time. This is DEFINITELY his area of expertise!! He could most certainly have been awesome in agility, search and rescue and who knows what else. With one exception: he has a lot of feral tendencies as well as being a fearful dog (one of the reasons I think this game we play is critical to him growing in confidence). I’ll explain that further a bit later.
I know my lack of understanding about him in the beginning and his extra needs didn’t help him build any confidence at all – trust me, my awesome dog training friends very much admonished me there. Now I’m learning alongside of him – although he still tries my limited patience daily which means I’m needing to grow in both patience and new nerves. So this game is a saving grace for both of us!! It re-establishes our bond daily as well as allows us to simply have a good time with each other. Isn’t that why we have them in the first place and call them companions??? Just like us, when they are well mentally they can be well physically also.
I wished I had pics of me playing this game with him but then I’d not be playing if I were taking pics lol. I’ll just share some of the ones I have from our yard time together (we play similar games there too as well as simply walk). This post wasn’t one to give us all the insights into the DOGmatics of canine behavior, nature or wellness but simply to share how one inadequate dog owner (moi) is growing in her learning alongside her dog who is doing likewise. Fo me this one is a lifesaver in the form of allowing my dog to BE a dog, while helping me be just a little bit more in his world to better bond with him since he spends the majority of his time in mine.
In the process we are developing healthy boundaries while building confidence. I’m training in a more relaxed fashion, as well as learning my dog’s abilities. The best part is when I start something new and watch him rise to the occasion. If for some reason Ezra had to go back into the wild, for example if civilization collapsed altogether (2020 has made me wonder about this a LOT), I’ve no doubt he’d survive just fine. He’d hunt with prowess, be super stealth, cunning and no doubt avoid any humans left about at all costs. It’s interesting to be living with a dog like this. Good thing he thinks I’m his Mom and his happiest times seem to be when we are doing these things together.
So back to how I am helping him slowly grow in his confidence. When I hide from him, I rarely help him try to find me. I can often see him from my hiding place, so I’ve watched how he first runs around like normal thinking I must be lurking somewhere just around the corner. When he realizes I’m actually really hiding, he then drops whatever toy he has in his mouth (lol) and puts his nose to the ground to sniff me out. If that doesn’t produce the result of finding me, then he goes to the normal hiding places and uses the process of elimination. Whenever he finds me no matter how fast or slow, I always praise him and tell him “good job!” He always responds proudly with his tail curled over his back and prances back to grab a toy. He definitely keeps me on my toes – that’s good too. I need to grow as much as I may think he does. It’s the best time in our days frankly. I hope this encourages you in some way with your own dog.
Hmmm, if 2020 is only a hint of things to come, I may have to disappear Into the Wild with Ezra…and bring my husband and other dog King along too lol!
Be well and until next time…
Have a PAWSitively, tail waggin’, NATUROPATHICALLY healthy day!