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Fun Outdoor Games for Dogs (Try the Ones You Haven't!) | Hastings Veterinary Hospital

Fun Outdoor Games for Dogs (Try the Ones You Haven’t!)

We all need to get out of the house from time to time, and that includes our dogs. Getting outside with your pup is good for the both of you, especially if you keep things fresh with new games.

You’re probably familiar with basics like fetch, but sometimes it gets old. So why not mix it up a little bit and try out something new? Here are some fun outdoor games for dogs; be sure to try the ones you haven’t played yet, or before! 

Fetch with a twist

You’re probably already playing fetch with your dog, but what if there was a way to up your game? 

Fetch is of course a great game for honing your dog’s natural instincts. However, you can make it even more engaging and fun for both of you with just a couple of changes. For example, you can try switching up the type of toy you throw. Balls bounce predictably, meaning less mental effort for your dog to grab it. If you can find something that bounces or flies more irregularly, it’ll be more fun for your dog to try and get to it.

You can also switch up the way you throw your dog’s toy. If you’re not already using one for your long-distance running dog, try one of the classic ball launchers to send it out a little further. There are even automatic launchers, which are a good option for dogs that spend lots of time outside on a larger property.

Hide and seek

Chances are your dog is better at hide and seek than you might think. Playing is simple, and your dog’s instincts tend to make them natural experts. Simply hide somewhere nearby while someone hangs onto your dog. Once you’re hidden, call them and have the other person let them come to you. Once you’ve been found, be sure to reward your dog with lots of praise (and maybe a treat) to encourage this behaviour.

This is also a good way to reinforce the habit of coming when called for your dog. Just remember to only do it in your fenced-in yard until you’re confident that they’ll stay nearby.

Create an obstacle course

Agility courses are a great way to stimulate your dog while keeping them active at the same time. Keeping your dog’s abilities in mind, try creating an obstacle course in your yard. Your dog doesn’t need to be first-in-show to have fun and keep fit on an obstacle course, and there are many cost-effective options out there now for dog owners with enough outdoor space.

Buried treasure

Dogs love digging holes, so why not encourage this instinct while protecting your lawn from unwanted digging at the same time? All you’ll need is a sandbox. We recommend sand over dirt, as it tends to be less messy. 

Once you’ve got a sandbox of some kind with at least a few inches to dig into, try burying dog treats, bones, or toys for them to go searching for. Be sure to reward your dog with lots of praise once they’ve found something, and don’t forget to rebury some treasures once in a while.

Scavenger sniff

Scent hunting is a key instinct for dogs, so think about setting up a scent-based scavenger hunt the next time you’re looking for something new to do outside with your dog. Whether it’s the smell of their favourite treat or something totally unknown, most dogs are more than happy to go on the hunt for a good sniff.

If you’re looking for a scent game to play in your yard, you can try filling open boxes with various treats in some and other fragrant (dog-friendly) objects in the others. Be sure to do this part when your dog can’t see you, or you’ll wind up spoiling the surprise!

When the game is set up, you can set your dog loose and let them investigate each box. Be sure to encourage them along and praise them when they find something, because reinforcement will get them confident to try more difficult versions of the game (such as hiding the boxes or adding more) in the future.

These are just a few ideas on how to mix up outdoor games for your dog, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. There are lots of other options, both store bought and vet-recommended to help keep your dog happy and active all year round. 

And if you don’t have a backyard, or the weather’s not so great for playing outside, that’s fine—options are available for playing inside your home as well. For even more tips about indoor activities, be sure to check out 7 Fun Rainy Day Indoor Activities With Your Dog You’ll Both Enjoy.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.


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