Which Hand Game – The Easiest Fun Scent Game To Teach A Puppy

This is hands down (paws up) one of the easiest dog tricks to teach your puppy. It is more of a party trick! You can sit down and teach your dog this game in no time at all!

This is actually an amazing introduction to scent games or scent tricks with your dog. The Which Hand Game is easy to learn, and most dogs get it pretty quickly.

which hand game guessing game for puppies
Max The Mini Labradoodle getting ready to play the Guess Which Hand game!

It is super cute, and pretty much any dog can have a fair crack at it. I won’t say that my dog Max is an expert… but he has fun playing it! Max is a miniature Labradoodle with a zest for life, and a love of treats.

The which hand is it game is entertaining for our family and he gets to use his nose AND get some treats.

This game also is a welcome boost of interaction between dog and family – which can increase the bond for new pet parents.

Which Hand Dog Guessing Game Video

Max is a Mini Labradoodle! He is non-shedding, and loves stealing socks.

So How Do We Play The Which Hand Game?

The game is “Which hand holds the treat” and the whole game is as simple as it sounds.

Step one? Grab some dog treats. I like bulk packs of natural snacks like X then break them down into smaller pieces. Smaller bits mean more opportunity for trick practice!

Which Hand Game - The Easiest Fun Scent Game To Teach A Puppy 1Which Hand Game - The Easiest Fun Scent Game To Teach A Puppy 2

Remember that all snacks have calories, and over 50% of dogs in the USA are obese! No more than round 10% of the daily caloric intake for your dog should be treats. Low calorie snacks can be purchased. 

Alternatively you can use pieces of kibble, or leftovers from food preparation like carrots. You can even give your dog bell peppers as a treat!

The actual trick: Which Hand Game

The trick: When presented with two closed fists, your dog sniffs each and indicates which hand holds the treat. You present your fists to your dog and encourage him to “get it” Then, reward your dog for showing interest in the correct hand.

This trick involves your dog’s two favorite things: using his nose and getting treats! Dogs usually catch on pretty quickly, but achieving a high rate of accuracy will require your dog to calm down and take the task seriously.

How to play: Ask the dog to stand still or sit. You approach the dog with two closed fists. Allow the dog to smell both fists. Say some encouraging words if the dog is confused initially.

They need to then indicate which hand the dog realises the treat is in. They can do this by sniffing and licking, or even tapping on your hand with their paw! Do not allow them to bite.

When the puppy picks the right hand, reward him with the treat! Don’t forget your positive vocal cues. Vocal cues are a wonderful tool to let the puppy know when something has got right!

You can dive right in and play the game straight away with your dog. If they are calm – oftentimes they will pick it up immediately!

Tips To Get The Which Hand Game Right

If your puppy gets too excited (which Max my puppy does), you can take a step back and follow these steps and tips to get a better result.

  1. Start simple and get the dog to calmly sit
  2. Approach slowly, and at the dogs height
  3. Later on I often get Max to do “sit pretty” to check which hand he is actually going for – or hold the hands apart. Don’t want him guessing randomly! 
  4. Use strongly smelling (natural) treats.
  5. Wash your hands between takes so the smell of the treat doesn’t linger and confuse the dog
  6. If the dog guesses incorrectly, wait up to 20 full seconds during training so they know that the game is serious business and they should be mindful of their pick
labradoodle black dog straight coat
Some Labradoodles will look more like Labradors that Poodles. Straight and wavy hair often look more like Labradoodles.

My Dog Just Goes For My Fist

As you can see in the video we filmed of Max playing the game for the first time, sometimes it seems like the dog just goes for the hand straight away.

To combat this blunt force guessing, we figured out two strategies.

First, I encouraged Max to sit before each attempt, which made him not lunge at my hand, and also calm down (a little)

Secondly, I started holding the treats a bit above his head so he had to go into the sit pretty stand to sniff the fists. I waited till he had sniffed both hands before rewarding him.

In the cut of the video you can see that… not every attempt was a success. But I like to think that if we stick with it this party trick can only improve!


The which hand has the treat guessing game is super fun for both the puppy and owner. Any interactive play gets the brain going for the dog, and helps deepen the bond between owner and puppy.

As far as the most basic scent game goes – your dog should be able to learn it in no time at all. Let me know if your dog masters it soon though! We still have Max in home-schooling for scent training (and he might need some extra tutoring).

There are a bunch of reasons why you might be stuck inside with your dog. Simple and fun indoor dog games are a great way to pass the time while cooped up inside.

If you do get a spare moment indoors with your dog, consider cleaning their ears. Particularly for Poodle Mix breeds, ear build up is a common issue. At home ear cleaning for Poodle Mix breeds like Labradoodles is fairly simple and pain free.

If you play any guessing games with your dog, let me know! We are looking to take our scent training up a level. Indoor games that tire a dog mentally are one of the best ways to calm a hyperactive dog, according to studies.

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