Find That Toy Game

By Trelle Dandridge
Mutts With Manners

If you properly train your pet at the Find That Toy Game, you'll both have lots of fun playing fetch all afternoon!

Get your dog involved with your life.  We can all agree that having a job, career, or passion helps us live a more fulfilled life.  Well, that is how our dogs feel.  Your dog was genetically built to have a job.  It is coded in his DNA to work and do something.  And, that saying “an idle mind is the devils workshop” applies to your dog too!  A dog that is bored and under-exercised can be  a potential problem.  Bored dogs dig holes, uproot flowers, chew up your antique furniture and may begin to chronically bark in an attempt to communicate their displeasure.  Training and training games can help alleviate boredom and take the bond you have with your dog to a deeper level.  There are many ways to expend energy in your dog besides daily walks, dog parks, or a jog on the treadmill; one of these many ways includes training.  Training is a very important process for your dog and you to go through.  School and education keeps our minds sharp and it keeps your dogs mind sharp too.  You don’t have to stop working with your dog just because the Basic Obedience class is over.  The training keeps going for the rest of your dog’s life.  You can use puzzle feeders like Kong toys, and fun games like the “find that toy” game.  For a dog that already has a strong retrieve…this game will be easy peasy.  For a dog that does not have a retrieve or a so-so one, we can help make it stronger so you can play “find that toy” with YOUR dog.  

What you will need:

  • Your dog

  • Your dog’s favorite toy

  • Your clicker (for precise communication, this can be a verbal bridge like “Yes!” or “Good!” as well, as long as it has been a properly loaded bridge)

  • Your dog’s favorite treat (preferably soft, small pieces for the maximum # of repetitions)

  • Another toy that is clearly not your dogs favorite, but he likes


  • Take your dog’s favorite toy away for about 3-4 days.  For his sake, do it when he isn’t looking!  Put it in a spot where you will remember it and he cannot find it or get to it.  He shouldn’t see it for days.

  • Name that toy, for instance, if it is a ball, it will be called “ball”. 

Training Plan:

  • Bring out the toy and drop it on the ground in front of you.

  • Drop the toy with no other toys around.  Once you have dropped it, start telling him to get his toy “Get your ball”, “get your ball”.  Once he put his mouth on the item, click/verbally bridge him and give him his release word “give”, “drop it”, etc.  He should gladly hand over the toy for the treat.

  • The whole process of the dropping of the toy and encouraging the dog to “get it” should be very animated and high energy to keep them excited and motivated.  When you give your release word, it should also be fun and energetic, not bellowing or firm. 

  • Repeat this process until your dog gets the idea.  Start placing it further away from you so he has to start “finding” it. 

  • Now it is time to bring out the other, less favorite toy.  Place the less favorite toy a foot away from the favorite toy.  Then repeat the previous step. 

  • When he is doing this consistently, start moving the favorite toy further away from the less favorite toy, keeping the less favorite toy closest to you and his starting point and moving the “known” toy further away.  Once he is successful at this step…you can add another toy into the mix.  Once your dog can do this with 4 or 5 other items, you can name another toy.   

Problem Solving:

  • When you initially introduce the new, less favorite toy, just casually put it on the floor away from where you and your dog is working, staying excited and interested in the toy you are naming.

  • Other clues you can give your dog to which item you are interested in him getting for you include:
           -looking at it yourself
           -pointing at it
           -stepping towards the correct toy
           -perhaps you have moved to quickly to the next step and need more repetitions on step 1?
          -are you clicking and treating enough?  Be clear and be consistent…in the beginning be generous with the treats

  • When introducing the new, less favorite toy, if your dog goes after it and grabs it, just ignore it and keep getting him interested in the toy you are naming.  Keep dropping the favorite toy and asking him to “get it” and “get the ball”.

With this game your dog will be on his way to fetching the paper and your house slippers in no time!!