Outdoor Games You can Play With Your Puppy
When the weather is warm, spending time outside with your dog seems like a natural choice. But after you’ve walked your dog and played fetch, what else is there to do? Playing with your puppy is an important developmental activity, and it’s a great way to keep your dog mentally and physically fit throughout his life. However, some of us aren’t fit enough to keep up with a fast-moving dog for long. But if you get creative with your games, you can give your dog the exercise and mental stimulation he needs without being an elite athlete.
Playing games with your dog outside also gives him the physical activity he craves. By helping your pet expend extra energy, you’ll have an easier time curbing destructive indoor behaviors. While daily walks and exercise are important for every dog, adding an additional 20 minutes of concentrated playtime every day will go a long way towards minimizing boredom-based behavior.
When you’re ready to move beyond fetch and frisbee, here are a six games that your puppy or dog will enjoy.
1. Dogs Chasing Bubbles
It doesn’t get easier than this. Purchase inexpensive bubbles with a bubble blower. Find a chair in the shade, and start blowing. The small balls of soap and light are fascinating to most pups. With a slight breeze, the bubbles should move fast enough to provide energetic play for your pup. For more fun, try the extra-large bubble kits and blow enormous bubbles. These huge, slow-moving balls are irresistible to most dogs, and you’ll be delighted at how surprised a puppy can be when they pop the bubble. Some pet stores and online sites even sell dog bubble blowers, reducing your work to the time it takes to set it up. However, the social interaction of the activity is key for some pets, so don’t switch out your discount store bubble set too quickly.
2. Hose Play With Your Puppy
If you have a backyard and a garden hose, you have a fun summer activity for your dog. Start slowly, and let your dog explore the water and the hose. Don’t spray him or chase him with water. Instead, create an arc with a gentle flow of water and let your puppy explore. As your dog gets more comfortable with the water, he may appreciate games like getting chased by water or chasing the water. Don’t push too hard, and never spray your dog with force. Many dogs start to dislike hose games because they fear getting sprayed.
3. Pups Love Tug of War
Tug of war can be problematic indoors. However, once you get outdoors, you have the room you need to engage in an energetic tug of war with your dog. Playing tug of war with your pup enhances the human-dog bond and satisfies the canine’s instinct to pull things with his mouth. Use rubber rings or a strong rope designed for the purpose. While many owners can “win” a game of tug consistently, it’s good to give your dog a chance to take control of the tug once in a while, to keep it fun and competitive.
4. Outdoor Brush Out for Your Dog
While this activity may not technically be classified as “play,’ you may find that your dog enjoys the interaction and physicality of a good brush out when it’s done on the grass on a warm day. Bring a dog brush outside and spend time really brushing out your dog’s coat. Incorporate a little play or wrestling to keep restless puppies engaged, but older dogs may lay down and relax. Grooming him outside will not only enhance the experience for him, it will also create less cleanup for you. Get more brushing tips here.
5. Puppy Agility Exercises
Agility courses don’t require cones and bars. You can teach your dog to navigate physical challenges using hula hoops, cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, and 2-liter bottles. Teaching your puppy to walk around cones (or 2-liter bottles), over gates (or boxes or laundry baskets), through tunnels (or in and out of opened boxes or through hula hoops) is a great way to increase his comfort with the outside world. Working on an agility course keeps your puppy mentally engaged, increases the human-dog bond, and gives him a workout. Teaching your pup to navigate barriers may be slow going at first, but if you take your time and offer lots of small treats, you’ll find most dogs will learn to enjoy the activity and take pride in completing the course. Get more tips on agility training here.
6. Train Your Dog to Fetch Items by Name
You may have heard of cases in which a dog can fetch a hundred items by name. That kind of skill and memory is rare in a dog, but you should be able to teach most pups to fetch three of four items by name without much effort. Start with one item, ask for it by name, and reward the pup’s successful fetching with a bit of kibble or a small treat. Once your dog is able to reliably fetch the item by name, switch to a different item, and repeat the process, asking for the second item by name. Once the dog is able to consistently fetch the second item by name, put the two items together, and alternate requests. Limit training sessions to about 5 or 10 minutes, and then come back to it after a short break. A series of short repetitions will keep your dog engaged while still providing the duplication he needs to learn. Reward the dog’s successful attempts with kibble, and be patient as he learns names. With practice, you may find your dog is able to fetch 5, 10, or even 20 items. Get more training tips here for teaching your dog to fetch, and for fetching by name.
7. Swings and Slides
While not everyone has a playset on their property, most parks offer swings and slides that are frequently not in use. If you can find a park with an empty playground, take the time to teach your dog to swing or slide. Small dogs may enjoy gentle swinging in a child’s bucket swing. All sizes of dogs can be taught to walk down short slides. Interacting with different surfaces and experiences helps your dog acclimate to the world, and after a few tries, swings and slides can become a dog’s favorite activity
Keystone Puppies cares about the health and well-being of your dog. While play is important for your pet, if you have concerns about agility, ability, or other health issues, consult with your veterinarian. If you’re considering bringing a new puppy into your life, but are not sure which breed is right for you, research over 200 dog breeds here. If you’re ready to find the puppy that’s right for your home, click here.