Summer Playtime with Your Dog

When it comes to outdoor games and your dog, is it any wonder that the first thing that probably comes to mind is “fetch?”

Admit it, though… some of you have dogs who gleefully run after a ball or flying disc, but they don’t necessarily want to bring it back. At my house, with a couple of terriers, “fetch” is NOT the game of choice.

Whether “fetch” is a go or a no go, you and your dog have plenty of options for outdoor fun. Here at Pet Health Central, we’ve talked often about an obvious outdoor activity: walking (regardless of the season) — but playtime can include a number of games you may not have tried.

We all know “hide and seek” from our childhood, but it’s easy to play with your dog. It helps to have an accomplice who can hold your dog while you go hide. Then, let him go and see how quickly he can track you down. You may have to start with simple hiding spots (standing behind a bush smaller than yourself) to begin with, but as your dog figures out the game, you can get craftier. Remember to reward him with a tidbit or excessive praise when he finds you, and he’ll get the hang of it quickly.

You can also play hide and seek with your dog’s favorite toy. In fact, you might even be able to teach your dog to identify several different toys. At our house, one dog knows toys by unique names. (Admittedly, “Pink Parrot,” “Roly Poly” and “Mr. Ugly” aren’t too original, but they sound different enough to our dog that she knows which toy we are requesting.) Again, rewarding your dog with praise or a treat when she brings the correct toy can help reinforce this activity…which can then become an outdoor activity, too!

Some active dogs adore agility training. You can easily teach basic skills, like hurdles, or down and stay, and progress to more difficult maneuvers like weave poles or A-frames. There are plenty of basic agility videos online or you may be able to find a trainer who can help you and your dog master the skills.

Remember “Red Rover?” (Was there ever a more aptly named game for a dog?) Teach your dog to sit at your feet and then send your dog to a family member. Or keep it simple and have your family member request that “Rover come over,” using your own dog’s name, of course! This can be an inside or outside game, and it helps reinforce the “sit” and the “go to” or “come” commands.

While you are at play, however, do keep in mind that not all toys are created equal. Playing fetch with a stick isn’t always the best choice, as your dog can break off pieces and swallow them. I’ve also talked to vets who have treated dogs who have impaled themselves in the throat by carrying the stick end first. There are plenty of dog-friendly toys, tosses and flying discs that eliminate these dangers.

Many dogs love to chase moving objects (in some, it’s that instinct to chase “prey”), but a tossed ball or toy is a much safer bet than letting them chase squirrels or rabbits. My dogs aren’t smart enough — or fast enough — to catch rodents, but many dogs are, and that can pose a problem. Those varmints can carry fleas that will happily hitch a ride on your dog. Applying a flea and tick preventative will help in the event that your dogs are faster than mine!

Whatever you do, whether it’s fetch or hide and seek, time spent with your pet will be appreciated! Get out there and play!

What are your favorite outdoor games to play with your dog? Add your favorites to the comments section below!

Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Print
  • email