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Looking for a fun way to celebrate Easter with your therapy dog between visits? Create an Easter egg hunt for some fun Easter-themed enrichment for your dog! Easter egg hunts can be a great way for your therapy dog to get exercise in your yard or even inside your home while they're unwinding after a visit, plus... they're just plain fun! All you'll need to do is fill Easter eggs with treats for dog and hide them, as long as you're keeping safety in mind! Follow these steps for a safe and enjoyable Easter egg hunt for your dog:
Choose Your Eggs
Plastic eggs can easily be filled with treats for your dog and washed out to use again. If you find some eggs with vent/drainage holes, even better! That will make it easier for your dog to sniff them out. Look for sturdy eggs that won't break easily when your dog nudges them open to get to their tasty treats. Make sure the eggs are large enough that your dog can't swallow them whole. If you don't trust your dog not to chew on the eggs, you can use any dog safe toy with room for treats: Kongs, Toppls, Snoops, etc. You may even want to choose hard-boiled eggs for a fun twist!
Choose Your Treats
I'm a big advocate for using your pet's daily kibble as their rewards because it makes it a lot easier to keep track of their calories and keep them at a healthy weight! BUT... I'd recommend starting with the smelliest, tastiest treats for your first egg hunt. Using stinky treats will make it easier for your dog to sniff out the eggs! Our dogs love hot dogs or dehydrated beef liver. Once your dog gets the hang of egg hunting, you might be able to upgrade the difficulty by using their kibble or other less smelly treats.
Fill the Eggs
Put a few treats in each egg to make it worth it to your dog to continue the egg hunt. (Remember to consider your dog's daily caloric needs. You might need a combination of smelly treats and kibble to stay at a healthy amount.) If this is your dog's first Easter egg hunt, you may even want to leave a few eggs slightly open to help them figure out how to open the rest of the eggs.
Hide the Eggs
Again, you're going to want to start easy here, especially if you haven't done any other sort of nosework drills with your dog before. Do your dog's first egg hunt in a quiet room with low distraction levels. You might even want to start with your dog in a stay in the same room or just outside the doorway so they can watch you as you "hide" the eggs by setting them out around the room. Once they've gotten the hang of things, you might start hiding the eggs from sight or even move your hunt outside for more distractions!
Let Your Dog's Easter Egg Hunt Begin!
Keep your dog on leash for your first few hunts so you can intervene quickly if they try to chew the eggs instead of just nudging them open. You can also use the leash to guide them toward the eggs if they're having trouble getting started. If your dog has reliable recall, you can certainly let them off leash once they get the hang of things. Especially if you are using plastic eggs, make sure to always supervise your dog closely during Easter egg hunts so you can avoid them accidentally ingesting the eggs.
Have fun celebrating Easter with your therapy dog this year! But don't feel like you have to limit egg hunts to the Easter season... this is a great option for exercise and enrichment for your dog year round, especially in the winter when your exercise options may be more limited! Don't forget to always look for time to have fun with your therapy dog outside of your volunteer visits.
Have you put together an Easter egg hunt for your dog? I'd love to hear how it went for you! Please let me know about it and ask any questions you may have in the comments!
Note: From chocolate to Easter lilies, there are quite a few Easter items and traditions that may be dangerous to your dog. Keep them safe and prepare them for your Easter celebrations with these safety and training tips >>