Hide the Wing


"Hide the Wing" is a great game to play with your pup to build enthusiasm and to teach him how to use his nose. It's also great fun when the weather precludes outside exercise.

Start with a fresh, well-feathered game bird wing. Show it to the pup and let him have a good smell of it, without grabbing it from you! Then put him into a small confined area where he cannot watch you, or have someone hold him out of sight.

Place the wing in an obvious spot at first, such as on a sofa or coffee table. Return to the pup and release him, saying, "Find the birdie!" or "Where's the birdie?"

Walk in the general direction of the wing, encouraging the pup to accompany you. As you near the wing, he should begin to pick up some scent and start looking for it. Verbally encourage him to find it. You may have to show it to him directly the first time or two. When he locates the wing, praise him effusively..."Attaboy, that's the birdie, you found the bird, good boy!"

If he grabs the wing, encourage him to bring it to you. I usually tell the pup to "take the bird, that's it, now bring it here" or "fetch" if you prefer. Take it from him gently. If he doesn't pick it up when he finds it, pick it up yourself and make a big fuss over it and the pup, but don't try to get him to take it once you've picked it up.

When you have the wing again, take him back to his original confined area and repeat the exercise. He should take to this game with enthusiasm!

Once he understands that his job is to find the wing, you can find progressively more difficult hiding places, such as dark corners, behind stacks of objects, under furniture cushions, etc. You should begin to hear him sniffing loudly as he seeks out the hidden wing. Remember not to hide the wing anyplace that you don't wish him to get into or investigate at other times!

Once your pup has mastered this game inside, you can move it out of doors, hiding the wing in bushes, clumps of grass, or tucked into stumps and debris piles. Try to select sites that might be logical for a bird to hide itself in - if you haven't a clue, imagine yourself as a tasty potential meal, hiding from predators both on the ground and in the air! From this stage, it should not be difficult to substitute live training birds for the wing, and your pup's nose should be educated enough to be able to find them readily.