Summer's the time for getting outdoors and going places with your dog. But a canine staycation can be just as much fun if you try some new activities at home — and you can do them every day! Here are some tips on how to have fun and stay safe in your own backyard this summer.
There are plenty of fun toys and equipment that you can make yourself to use outdoors. Simple jumps can be made with a couple of buckets and a broom handle or just use a hula hoop. Start with it down low, luring your dog to walk through, and then raise it gradually.
Another game that's fun outdoors is a chase, and a great option is a toy on the end of a long line. You can buy one, but it's easy to take your dog's favorite soft toy and tie a rope to it.
"You can either toss it out and reel it in, or you can have it behind you as you walk or jog away," trainer Mikkel Becker says. "It's a fun way to get your dog to follow you."
For dogs who love water, a kiddie pool is an ideal way to have fun and keep cool — but there are even more creative ways you can use it. Trainer Becker says they're great for dogs who like to dig. You might be surprised to learn that one reason dogs dig in the summer is to cool off!
"When they dig, they get down to the cool earth down beneath," she says. "A lot of the time, you'll see dogs who dig and lie down where they were digging."
A kiddie pool can give your dog a place to indulge that instinct without messing up your yard. Fill it with dirt or sand, she says, then hide toys in it. "Make it an enticing area to dig, and then the other area is more boring."
For a less messy option, make a ball pit: Fill the pool with balls and toss in treats and toys for your dog to look for. "It's a fun adventure to get to explore and see what they can find in there," she says. For safety, supervise if the balls are not made as dog toys. And make sure you keep your kiddie pool covered when your dog isn't playing in it — you don't want outdoor cats or wild animals getting in there.
For the dog who loves water, though, there's no substitute. One great source of fun can be the sprinklers you use to water your lawn.
"A lot of dogs like running through the sprinklers," she says. "If you have a dog who's keen on water, play games of chase and fetch through the sprinklers."
You can also have some cool fun with your dog's food. Becker suggests making a "pupsicle" using a flexible plastic bowl or container. Fill it with some water or low-sodium broth, and add stuffed Kongs, treats and chews. Freeze it, and then if you want, you can pop it out of the container. Your dog will lick through the ice to get to the fun bits.