Playing thimbles with a dog

Thimbles are an old gamble that law enforcement officers don’t like very much. However, hardly anyone will mind when a dog is played for a treat.

The trick is that three identical cups are placed in front of the dog, a treat is placed under one of them, then move the cups and invite the dog to find a treat. You can also use flower pots or other items that your dog can turn over with ease instead of plastic cups.

Teaching the dog to flip the cup

You only need one glass at this stage. Plant the dog in front of you and show her the treat. Then place the treat on the floor and cover it with a glass. Next, invite your dog to get food. Praise your dog for every attempt to flip the cup. When she succeeds, allow her to eat the treat and actively praise. Repeat the exercise several times to consolidate the skill.

Playing thimbles with a dog
Teaching a dog to get a treat from under a glass

Learning to play

When the dog learns to flip the cup accurately, you can proceed to the next step. Take the other two cups and place them next to the first in a line. Start moving the cups. Make sure the dog is focused on your movements. After a few movements, place the cups in a row.

Playing thimbles with a dog
Teaching your dog to find a cup of treats

Give the command “Seek” and observe the pet’s behavior. If, instead of turning over one desired glass, the dog turns everything in a row, then do not give her encouragement. After a few wrong attempts, she will understand that she will receive a treat only if she immediately chooses the right glass.

To make it easier for your pet to find a treat by smell, make small holes in the cups.

Trick options

  • Practice the trick by swapping out the treat for a small item. Choose things made of leather or fabric – these materials, unlike others, smell stronger, and it will be easier for the animal to find them.
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