Skip to main content

How to set up a fun Easter egg hunt for your dog

Ah, spring! And nothing says “goodbye, cold weather” better than a good old-fashioned Easter egg hunt. This traditionally child-centric activity dates back to the 1700s in the U.S., when the Pennsylvania Dutch believed in an egg-laying rabbit and encouraged their children to build nests in the grass for her to lay her eggs in.

Centuries later, the annual tradition still delights children, whose parents dutifully hide plastic eggs filled with treats and baskets stuffed with plastic grass and chocolate bunnies. And because we believe the custom can be just as fun for pet parents and their canine family members, here are our suggestions for setting up an Easter egg hunt for your favorite dog.

Determine the location

Before you buy the treats and invite your guests, research the best place to host your canine-friendly Easter egg hunt.

  • Backyard. Look no further than your own backyard — if you have one. Your dog probably knows every smell within its confines anyway, so adding new scents to the area will definitely be a fun surprise.
  • Public area. If you and your pup have a favorite public area to play in, scout to see if it might be a good option for an Easter egg hunt. First, secure permission for the activity. Then, consider how you will hide his treats in a public area without having them discovered by other animals or curious humans. Remember, the Easter holiday is extremely popular with families, so public areas may be extra busy this time of year.
  • Inside. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with staging an Easter egg hunt inside, especially if the weather isn’t cooperating where you live. Let’s face it: Our pups just aren’t picky. As long as they get a tasty treat or two from the experience, they won’t fault you for staying indoors.
pug in pink bunny suit
https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Ezzolo

Choose the treats

With careful consideration, this activity can be as fun for your pet as it is for you. The goal is to modify the human egg-hunting experience to be safe and rewarding for your dog.

With that goal in mind, choose nutritional treats in a quantity that won’t spoil his appetite. Healthy alternatives to the traditional dog treat can be baby carrots, sweet potato and banana slices, or hard-boiled eggs without the shell.

Shy away from hiding treats in plastic eggs, especially if your dog is likely to chew on the container. Plastic eggs can splinter, creating a choking hazard or obstruction if swallowed. Instead, opt for a dog toy treat dispenser or interactive treat puzzle.

Invite participants

Half the fun of an Easter egg hunt is sharing it with friends and family, so think about others who might enjoy this activity, too. But first consider this:

  • If your dog has resource-guarding behaviors, it might be best to keep this a solo activity. However, If your dog shares well with others, it could be fun to have a group Easter egg hunt with other pet parents. How many to invite depends entirely on everyone’s ability to get along when food is involved, as well as how many dogs will fit comfortably in the hunting area.
  • Have a separate hunt for the little humans. Although watching kids and dogs interact is delightful, the goodies humans eat on this holiday (think chocolate and other sugary treats) can be extremely toxic for furry family members.
  • Be mindful of others, especially if you’re planning a hunt in a public place. Establish rules of play and make sure all pet parents know them before the hunt begins.
dog in white bunny suit with carrot
https://www.shutterstock.com/g/alexei_tm

Hide the treats

Some dogs have a better sense of smell than others, so make sure you’re hiding treats appropriately for each dog in the activity. And if you’re hiding treats in a dispenser or puzzle as recommended, it might be wise to familiarize your pup with the concept a few days ahead of the hunt.

Some great hiding places include:

  • Plain sight. This is especially true if you plan to use small kibble to lead your dog to a bigger prize, like a new toy or chew stick.
  • On the ground. Keep hiding places simple, especially for first-timers. For indoor hunts, hide treats behind curtains and furniture, or underneath their bed or favorite blanket, to discourage jumping and prevent household items from being knocked over.
  • Behind a tree. Or beneath a bush or piece of patio furniture. For outside hiding places, make sure it’s a safe, critter-free spot.

Let the hunt begin!

Now you’re ready to have some fun. Leash each dog and lead them from treat to treat, or turn them loose and let them forage for themselves (depending on local leash laws, of course).

Supervise your dog at all times to make sure he plays well with others and eats only the treats you’ve hidden for him. Don’t forget to take lots of photos of the fun. Afterward, pick up any remaining goodies that weren’t discovered as well as any trash your party has created during the hunt.

As you’ll soon see, this activity is a great sensory exercise for your dog as well as an innovative way to strengthen the bond between you. Once you’ve finished, let your imagination wander. In no time, you’ll be thinking of ways to include your dog in other family holiday traditions.

Editors' Recommendations

Debbie Clason
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Debbie Clason's work has appeared in Family Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated, The Lutheran Witness, Massage Magazine…
Can dogs eat broccoli? Here’s what to know about feeding this cruciferous vegetable to dogs
Find out the details of feeding your dog this green veggie
JRT with broccoli outside

Even though a lot of people have a love-hate relationship with vegetables, there are undeniable benefits to eating these superfoods. Would you be surprised if we told you the same goes for dogs? It's true! Vegetables contain many nutritious vitamins and minerals to keep your pup energized and healthy, but how can you know which veggies are canine-approved? Can dogs eat broccoli?
This cruciferous veggie is versatile and easy to prepare, but there's a lot you need to know before feeding it to your pup as a snack or in homemade dog food. Here are the facts about broccoli for dogs.

Can dogs eat broccoli? Here are the basics about this healthy snack for canines

Read more
Why does your dog lie on you? It’s (usually) a good thing
All the reasons why your dog considers you their favorite pillow
Dog lying on the leg of person with white sweatshirt

Snuggles and unconditional love were likely part of the reason you brought home your furry friend in the first place. You may have envisioned yourself scratching their ears and spending nights petting them after a long day at the office. You may not have expected that the bed you splurged on would be tossed aside in favor of your lap. You may wonder, "Why does my dog lay on me instead?"

Dog-human relationships are as sweet as they come, but a language barrier complicates them. Your pet can't answer this question for you, but we have some theories. The good news? Unlike other common dog behavioral questions, chances are, the reason your dog has chosen you as their favorite pillow is a positive (and sweet) one.
Why does my dog lie on me?

Read more
This is why your dog always wakes you up howling in the night
Plus, what you can do to fix nighttime vocalizing
Dog howls while standing near a flock of sheep in a pasture

You may enjoy watching wolves howl at the moon on TV, but you probably don't like it when it comes to life in your own home. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, your dog will wake up and channel their inner Canis lupus (wolf). Both of you need sleep, so you might want to try to tamp this down with a little retraining.

Of course, the first step to fixing your noise problem is to figure out the underlying cause, which involves paying a bit more attention to exactly what your pup is doing and when. So, if you wonder, "Why is my dog howling at night?" we suggest you note a few factors.
Why do dogs howl?

Read more