Getting some outdoor exercise with your dog is good for both of you, but there also are times when your dog will be outside in the yard by himself or with canine companions. Some dog toys are suited for both scenarios: ones that allow you to share in his playtime, and others that will help him relieve boredom and discourage destructive behaviors. Remember that outdoor time should be used prudently so that dogs learn important social skills.
Playtime together in the yard just wouldn’t be the same without some fetch toys. Tennis balls and flying disks are good choices. If your dog is a vociferous chewer, invest in tennis balls that are made specifically for dogs, as they withstand canine wear-and-tear better than your average tennis balls made for humans. Also, look for dog toys with a squeaker, such as a rubber bone, that rewards the dog with a noisy squeak when he retrieves it.
Puzzle Treat Toys
Dog toys that are designed specifically to hold treats that require dogs to extricate painstakingly are wonderful inventions. Fill them with any food item approved by your veterinarian, such as peanut butter, cheese, dog treats or their usual kibble. While they can be used indoors and out, you will appreciate them being outside if you fill them with something like peanut butter. Freezing them also is a good way to make the fun last a bit longer -- and cool your dog off outdoors on a hot summer day.
Homemade and Inexpensive Toys
Put a few inches of water in an inexpensive kiddie pool for a dog that enjoys just laying in water to cool off. Make it even more interesting by adding frozen cubes of chicken broth -- which your dog will enjoy with or without the pool. Tie two plastic milk jugs together with rope less than a foot long; if your dog loves shaking things he’ll enjoy grabbing the rope in his mouth and shaking so the two jugs bang together, especially if they are filled with some tasty treats.
There is a place for soft toys in the yard, particularly for older dogs who appreciate a “comfort” toy, such as a favorite stuffed animal or even one of your old shirts that he played with when he was younger. Durable rope toys can do double-duty for chewing and fetching; monitor them and give them a good occasional cleaning. Check all soft toys for safety, particularly those made for humans that your dog may have adopted as his own. You also can get soft toys with squeakers to break the backyard monotony.
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.