Shell Game

Teach your dog to play the classic shell game, it will keep both of you amused on a rainy day. Scenting games tire your dog out, challenging them mentally, activating their nose and teaching them to follow it!

Teach your dog the shell game

What you’ll need: 3 clay pots with holes, smelly treats, and a hungry dog.

Optional prerequisite training: You can prime your dog for this task by asking them for similar tricks they may already know, like ‘shake a paw,’ ‘find it,’ or ‘which one?’ which is a trick I had already taught Doug which combines ‘find it’ and ‘shake a paw.’ After a few reps, he is in find it, paw it, get it mode.

Now it’s time to get 1 pot.

Hide the treat underneath the pot while your dog watches. Rubbing the treat on the inside helps. Then hold it still and wait for him to try to paw the treat out. Say “Yes!” the moment he touches the pot, and reveal the treat for him to eat. Get several successful reps before adding the cue ‘find it’ or ‘which one?’ Get several more successful reps before dropping your hand from the pot. Mark, and heavily reward your dog’s lightest taps, so that they learn not to knock the pot over.

Now it’s time to get 2 pots.

Have your dog ‘sit’ and/or ‘wait’ to reset between each rep. Say ‘whoops’ and reveal the empty pot if your dog makes a mistake, but be cheerful, and keep this game brief, it can be frustrating for your dog!

Make sure your dog has had plenty of success before making a switcheroo, adding a third pot, or playing the game on a table.

We think you’ll both enjoy this fun, simple scenting game.