Usually during this time of year we would be taking our dogs to the beach, on hiking trips, the dog park and many other adventures. However, because of the pandemic we are stuck at home with a bored dog and lots of free time. Luckily, there are still ways to engage your dog without having to leave the house. Here’s some fun and enriching backyard activities for your dog that will turn your home into the ultimate playground.
Splash n’ Play
Beat the heat by turning your outdoor area into an oasis for your dog. If your pup loves the water, you can buy them a kiddie pool to keep them entertained for hours. Toozey has a great dog pool that is durable, foldable and great for dogs of all sizes. If your dog isn’t a great swimmer, the kiddie pool is a great way to get their feet wet before future swim lessons.
For the water-obsessed pups, this doggy hose attachment will provide hours of entertainment and hydration. The dog fountain shoots water into the air and into your dog’s mouth with an easy push of a pedal. You’ll never have to worry about filling your dog’s outdoor water bowls again.
A staple outdoor activity, fetch never gets old. Not only does your dog love it, but retrieving a ball or toy is great exercise and strengthens the human-dog bond. From tennis balls, rope toys, or plush toys, you can toss almost anything you have handy.
Dog Flyer Discs are great because their aerodynamic design makes them fly far and their durability can withstand most dog’s chewing. West Paw’s Zisc Flying Disc is lightweight, yet tough, pliable, floatable and doubles as a travel bowl for when your dog gets thirsty.
If your dog is high-energy or loves running, we recommend dog ball launchers such as Chuckit! Sport Launchers. This handy tool will launch a ball up to three times farther you can throw, which means a lot more exercise for your energetic pup. If you want to elevate your fetch game even further, Hyper Pet’s K9 Kannon can launch a ball up to 75 feet! These launchers are also designed for hands-free pickup, so you’ll never have to bend down and pick up a slobbery ball again.
Agility is a great activity that boosts your dog’s I.Q. and provides endless amounts of interactive fun and physical exercise. Despite preconceived notions, you don’t have to enroll your dog in classes or compete in national championships to have fun with agility.
You can easily make a dog agility course in your backyard with everyday items you have at home such as cups, wrapping paper, brooms and more. There are also a lot of inexpensive agility kits available online, such as Outward Hound’s Zip & Zoom Outdoor Agility Kit. The starter kit can easily be set up in minutes and provides a variety of obstacles such as a high jump, square tunnel, and weave poles.
If your dog grows to love agility, consider signing them up for our dog-only Fun & Fit Agility class. It’s hosted by our certified trainer, Rhonda Feinberg, at our Santa Monica location every Wednesday afternoon.
Digging in the Sandbox
If your dog is notorious for digging holes in dirt and grass, a sandbox is the perfect way to save your backyard from more wreckage. Use a child’s sandbox and use only clean sand from your local hardware store to fill it up. If you’re feeling more venturesome, you can build your own sandbox with these easy steps.
To encourage your dog to use the pit, bury their favorite treats or toys just below the surface of the sand. You may need to show your dog how to uncover one or two treats hidden under the surface. Last but not least, always reward your dog with praise when they uncover a treat by themself.
Outdoor Scent Work
If there’s one thing every dog loves to do, it’s sniffing! So, why not make a fun game out of it? Scent works lets dogs use their noses and brains and track down scents for rewards. To create a simple course at home for your dog in your backyard, all you’ll need is a few bowls or cardboard boxes and your dog’s favorite treats.
To play, fill a few of the containers with treats and disperse all the boxes or bowls around your backyard. Once the course is ready, let your dog outside on a leash and walk them around to sniff and explore. When they detect a treat, reward them with more treats and continue until they are done searching. When they become more confident, you can try it off leash and use odors like the pros.
If you want something easier, hide a smelly chew treat for your dog, like Redbarn’s Bully Stick, in your backyard. Once they find it, they’ll get to enjoy the delicious treat!
No matter what backyard activity you choose to do with your dog, they’ll love every second. Make sure you don’t overwork them, dogs need rest and water breaks too! We recommend an hour to two hours of exercise a day, depending on your dog’s breed.