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6 Summer Yard Games

Pet Health and Safety  •   Mary Shaughney  •   Aug 24, 2018


Everyone loves playing outside during the summer, but throwing a ball for your dog can get old day after day. Switch up your outside routine by playing some of these fun backyard games with your dog:

Sprinkler Agility

Most dogs love running through the sprinkler on a hot day, but you can make sprinklers even more fun by setting up an agility course around the yard! Your dog will enjoy the challenge of leaping over jumps, weaving through poles, and crawling under obstacles, all while getting sprayed by the sprinkler. It’s easy to build an agility course using things you find around the house. Create jumps by balancing a broomstick across two buckets or set up weave poles by sticking tomato stakes in the ground. Make sprinkler agility even more fun by running through the course with your dog! During this game, be careful that your dog does not step on the sprinkler or does not slip while jumping or landing.

Make a Splash

If you have a pool or a natural body of water in your backyard, make a game of fetch a little more fun by throwing your dog’s toy into the water! First, teach your dog to swim before playing water games, even if you’re only playing in a shallow body of water. Experiment with toys that float and toys that sink to see which your dog enjoys fetching more. You can either ask your dog to bring the toys back onto dry land for you to throw again or you can get in the water yourself and play fetch from there! Remember to keep a close eye on your dog’s energy level as he may be having too much fun to realize when he’s tired.

Hidden Treasure

Test your dog’s ability to locate his favorite toy or treat by playing hidden treasure! Let your dog see and smell his favorite treat or toy, then go outside (leaving your dog inside where he can’t see you) and hide the toy/treat reward. To begin, hide the reward somewhere simple where your dog can find it and learn the ropes of the game. As the game progresses, make the hiding spots more difficult for your dog. Teach your dog a key phrase, such as “find your ball” so he knows when you’re playing the game and he should find his toy.

Bubble Bonanza!

This game is easy and only requires dog-safe bubbles! Teach your dog to chase bubbles by blowing a few and then pointing out the bubbles to your dog. If your dog doesn’t know what to do, catch a few yourself to show him that it’s part of the fun. Most dogs catch on quickly and have a blast chasing bubbles around the yard! There are various bubble machines and bottles of dog-safe bubble mixtures that are bacon and peanut butter scented to attract your dog.

Designate a Digging Spot

If you don’t want your dog digging in the yard, but he loves to dig, you can easily build him a digging box! Use wood to frame out the box and fill it with sand. You may have to walk your dog over to the box and encourage him to dig. Be sure to reward him when he digs in the box but continue to keep the rest of the yard off limits. Soon he’ll learn that when the urge to dig kicks in, he can run to his box to have a good time. You can even hide some of his durable toys in the box for him to find!

Red Light, Green Light

This fun twist on the children’s game “Red Light, Green Light” can help your dog learn to pay attention to you even during play. It’s easiest to play this game with multiple people (and dogs) but it can be played with just one dog and owner too. If there are multiple players, one can be the designated caller and will be responsible for calling red or green light. If you and your dog are playing alone, you will call either red or green light. During green light, your dog should be encouraged to play by chasing toys, running around, etc. Once the caller says red light, you should give your dog a sit or lay down command. If your dog continues to play, repeat the command and remove the toy/ stop your dog from playing. He needs to learn that despite how much fun he is having, he has to respond to you. Keep practicing this game until your dog is following your commands quickly and having a blast!

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