When it comes to activities to do with your dog in the backyard, people tend to jump right into a game of fetch. While your dog is probably eager to go chasing after whatever object you throw for him, fetch is not your only option. Additional backyard activities provide exercise for your active pooch while also providing training and quality time with you.
While having a fenced backyard does provide safety for your dog, it does not mean that when you let your dog out, he is out there exercising and active. He may eagerly run out to do his business or run the perimeter to check for intruders, but after that, he probably takes time out to bask in the sun. Just like many people, dogs need motivation to exercise. Planning activities with your dog is not only a fun bonding time for you and him, but also gives him a chance to exercise and work off excess energy.
Hide-and-seek is a game that provides exercise as well as teaches tracking skills. Begin by telling your dog to stay. If staying is not something your pooch does well, have someone else hold his collar. While he stays in place, find an easy hiding spot. Once you are there, call out your dog’s name and wait for him to come find you. Once he does, reward him with treats and praise. As he gets used to the game, make your hiding spots more difficult or add friends to the game and have him find everyone. For a twist on the game, try hiding his favorite toys or treats around the yard.
Digging is a natural instinct for dogs. Dogs will dig for entertainment, to find cool dirt to relax in or to bury their favorite bone. Other dogs may dig because of stress or boredom. However, digging is not always an encouraged behavior, especially in your favorite flower garden. If your dog loves feeling the cool dirt between his paws, consider creating his very own digging garden. This can be a designated space in your yard or a sandbox made from a child’s plastic pool filled with sand. To encourage digging in this spot, hide toys and treats underneath the sand for him to dig and discover.
Agility courses provide your dog with his very own playground. Items such as tunnels, jumps, ramps and weave poles provide exercise and fun in a variety of ways. An old kid’s play tunnel works well and you can use PVC pipe to create jumps and weave poles. If making a course is not really an option, start small with a simple hula-hoop. Hold the hoop with the bottom resting on the ground and encourage your dog to walk through. Reward him with a treat when he reaches the other end. As he gets used to walking through, gradually raise the height of the hoop.
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.