Your buddy loves to go outside, and he may never get bored of the same old walk and sniff around the same old block. But you can liven up his outdoors experience nonetheless with some simple and fun outside toys and treats. Whether he fancies sprinting, swimming, jumping or all three, there are plenty of toys to please every pup.
Outdoor Ready Toys
Dog toys made specifically for outdoor use are more durable than the stuffed, squishy toys your buddy plays with on the couch. Look for toys made of quick-drying, waterproof or washable materials. Nylon, rubber and plastic toys, or water toys covered in neoprene, are good, long-lasting choices that won't fall apart after a few romps in the park. Just give them a quick rinse with the hose and dry them in the sun.
Fetch is the quintessential canine outdoor activity. However, the fun doesn’t end with tennis balls and sticks. Challenge your buddy to a game of Frisbee; throw it long and low to the ground for the sprinter or gently lob it for the smaller, slower guy. Try a floating Water Wubba for fetch in a pool or lake. Diligent members of the sporting, working and herding groups especially enjoy chasing and retrieving items for their owners, while terriers happily expend their boundless energy during a game of fetch. Fetch is also a great way to reinforce basic obedience commands like "Come," "Sit" and "Drop It."
When the weather warms, keep your buddy’s mind sharp and his body cool with a homemade ice treat. Place some of his favorite treats and snacks such as raw carrots or bits of kibble into any freezable, open-top container, fill it the rest of the way with water and freeze it. Break it free from the container and let him loose with it outside. Your buddy’s size will dictate what size of container you use. A pint-size ice-cream container may work best for a toy breed; a larger plastic storage container for the Great Dane may be required. Ice treats are fun anywhere; for extra bliss, use them on hard surfaces like driveways, tennis courts or decks -- the ice will slide around as it melts, keeping him interested.
A small plastic pool plays double toy duty for your buddy; just make sure it’s small enough for him to easily stand in and get in and out of. In the summer, fill it with water and drop some of his favorite floating toys or even pieces of carrot or apple inside. If your buddy isn’t fond of water or if it’s too cool to get wet, fill it with sand instead. Bury some of his favorite toys, sticks or chew treats and watch him have a blast digging through the dirt.
Obstacles and Agility
Some dogs love to jump and sprint. Save your and your guests' pants and offer up some outdoor obstacle and agility toys. An old tire, laid flat on the ground, is a great way to teach and train smaller breeds to jump accurately. You can also hang it with rope to fashion a low small tire swing for your pal to jump through; entice him with treats if he seems confused. Collapsible nylon tunnels are fun obstacles for curious pooches. It’s easiest to begin by placing him at one end, instructing him to stay, and then racing to the other end while calling him to come to you. Once he’s comfortable with the tunnel, place a treat or two at the other end as a reward.
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.