Get It! Game Instructions
Step 1: At random times throughout the day stop what you are doing and direct all of your attention on one of your puppy’s toys (the soft and squishier the better). Convince them that you have just found 1 million dollars and it is the most amazing and fascinating thing at the same time and you are so excited. Create anticipation with noises like “OOOO”, “AHHHH”, “OOOHHHH” and sentences like “Look! Look what I have. Omgosh… YAY!”. It is not really about what you are saying, it is about your tone, infliction and body language when doing so. Remember dog’s are better at reading us than we are at reading our own species so you have to believe it to be convincing otherwise they won’t buy it. I want you to grab the toy, wave it around, throw it in the air, run it along the floor, go and hide it in a drawer and then pull it back out again, run away from them, boop them on their head with it (but only if your puppy likes it) anything to instil our interest and value in it. When your puppy shows interest in what you have tease them, gee them up and make them really want it. Repeat this for 3 days but do not let your puppy get it. You are playing hard to get.
Step 2: Then after the 3 days you can now repeat step 1 but this time let them get it for the next 3 days. To let them get it, repeat all of step 1 but when you have just got to the stage of teasing them, freeze and hold the toy right in front of their nose/face for them to get. The moment they put their mouth around it you must say the command “Get It!” and then you must play with the toy with them, whether that means chase them if they like to be chased, let them chase you, play tug, etc. The bold section is very important and must be strictly followed. You must not just give the toy to them as you will undo all of the value creation you just worked so hard to build.
Step 3: You are now going to repeat step 1 but this time when your puppy is really excited for the toy and wants it, you are to throw the toy straight down directly onto the ground and say “Get It!” when they put their mouth around it. As soon as they do say “Yay!”, clap and then engage in whatever style of play your puppy likes. You must throw the toy straight down as you want to teach your puppy to find it from the ground. You are not playing fetch with them.
Step 4: You are now going to have toys on the ground. You are going to walk around the house and then randomly and suddenly stop and point to the toy and say “Get it!”. When they get it I want you to say “Yay!”, clap and then engage in whatever style of play your puppy likes. This time you are not to pick up the toy, they must get it themselves from the ground and bring it to you to engage with play. The only time you are to touch the toy at this point is after they have gotten it and it is in their mouth.
Step 5: Once it looks like your puppy understands that “Get It” means to put their mouth around a toy. I want you to be away from a toy and then say in a hushed tone “*puppy’s name* are you going to get it, where did it go, find it” and then when it looks like they start to look for it walk them towards a toy but don’t direct them to it exactly and then say “Get It!” When they find the toy and put their mouth around it say “Yay!”, clap and then engage in whatever style of play your puppy likes.
Step 6: Once you notice your puppy’s value in the toys around the house has increased I want you to use them to your advantage if they nip or mouths at you, it is even better if you can intercept them before they have the chance to practice the unwanted behaviour. If the nip or bite you must not acknowledge it at all instead I want you to redirect their need to do so on to a toy by saying “OOOO *puppy’s name* where is it, find it, go get it, go get it, go get it!” and point in the direction of one of their toys that is already out. As soon as they go for the toy I want you to engage and play with them as a reward. Over time your puppy will learn to go and retrieve a toy as an invitation to play with you especially when they are energetic and excited without you even needing to say “Get it!”.
Step 7: Make sure you also randomly just play with your puppy with their toys throughout the day so they don’t learn to nip to initiate a game of tug with you. Before each play session from now on I would like you to implement a game start and finish cue. It is up to you with what you would like to say but it must be the same every time by everyone. Good examples are “Play time” and “Finished”.