What Can Dogs Play With in the Backyard?by Chris Miksen
If left to his own devices, your pup might take to keeping himself entertained in the backyard by chewing on sticks, rocks, leaves and all sorts of things that can cause him harm. Throw a toy or two back there and everything changes. But forget the plush ducks and sheep; you'll need something a bit hardier to withstand backyard play, such as rubber, rope and maybe even a swimming pool.
Your pup doesn't need a tire swing to have some backyard fun. A bit of rope will do just fine. Tie the rope to a fairly thick branch, and leave the other end dangling a little off the ground, at about the height of your pup's head. The rope will blow in the wind, enticing your pooch to sink those big canine teeth into it. You can even tie something to the rope, like a small toy tire. Never loop the rope; your pup could get his neck caught.
One of those small plastic kiddie swimming pools makes the perfect addition to your backyard in the cusp of summer. It gives your little guy a place to cool off, and some dogs get frisky when wet. Others love snapping at the water, or jumping in and smacking at the surface with their paws. Just remember to dump out the water and refill the pool each day. You don't want to deal with stagnant water. If you have a tiny pup, make sure you fill the pool to where he can safely stand, not any higher.
After your arm has deteriorated from throwing your dog's ball a thousand times, or for when you don't have time to play fetch, an automatic ball launcher is there to save the day. There are a few variations of automatic launchers. Some require you to refill the holding compartment with tennis balls and push a button to launch them, while others allow you to train your pup to add a ball to the compartment and watch it fly.
Anything rubbery usually makes for a wonderful addition to your pup's collection of outside toys. Not only do rubber toys stand up to most weather conditions, they also bounce around, allowing your pup to have fun smacking them with his paw or dropping them from his mouth. A long list of different rubber toys exist, such as balls, oblong-shaped chews, toys that are perfectly smooth and those that have a ribbed exterior. Rubber tire toys are also a good idea for bouncing, rolling and hiding a smaller toy in the middle of the tire to keep your pup busy.
Some dogs don't see what's so great about playing by themselves, so they get bored even in the company of balls, ropes and swimming pools. But few canines can resist the temptation of a treat dispenser. The dispensers come in a variety of shapes, from small rubber dispensers that withstand plenty of nasty weather conditions to large balls with big openings for those canines who have difficulty getting the treats to fall out.
A Helping Hand
If you have a bit of free time to spend with your pup, the options for backyard playtime expand greatly. Consider tossing a disc through the air for your little guy to sprint after and catch before it falls to the ground, or grabbing yourself a handheld launcher to send a tennis ball or two flying to the other end of your yard. Flyers are another option. They usually come in a form of an animal, such as a duck, and have a built-in bungee system. With a bit of a pull-and-release action, the toy takes flight. Flyers typically have a tough exterior made of fleece and nylon with lots of stitching, so they stand up to the rigors of outdoor play.
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