Archive OLDT :: Yard Games

For those lucky dogs who enjoy access to a fenced-in yard, there is an assortment of activities that can be enjoyed, for the solitary dog as well as for dog-human playmates!

Some dogs are unabashed diggers. The dachshund is such a breed, bred to dig in search of rodents. Digging is actually a good source of exercise -- it's a great workout for the forelimbs. So, rather than trying to inhibit the behavior completely, it's better to reach a compromise by giving your pooch a designated digging area or sandbox in which to exercise this instinctive behavior. In order to attract the behavior to the designated area, dig a shallow hole and bury a ziplock baggy of treats. As he digs to reveal the baggy, open it up and produce a treat for him. As he progresses, plant the baggy slightly deeper in the dirt. You can use a heavier dirt medium or pack it more tightly for added challenge.
   You can also bury stuffed puzzle toys in the soil for his search and recovery. Make sure to supervise so that you can discourage your pup's digging in other parts of the lawn. For building a canine athlete, do this exercise three or four times a week

Other Yard Activities
  • Hang tug toys from tree branches for some solitary tug play. Perhaps start by hanging toys that the two of you have used in tugging games together.
  • Some dogs enjoy tossing a jolly ball (large, inflatable rubber ball) around the yard.
  • Putting a Buster Cube or Tricky Treat ball filled with kibble out in the yard can be a great pastime.
  • Fill a kiddie wading pool with water for a pleasant cooling station for your pooch. Exercise care with small dogs -- they should be able to get in and out easily and the water level should be appropriate for their size.
  • Take a class in agility or nose work at a local training facility and then set up a course in your backyard. These are fun activities that you can do together!
  • Of course, it goes without saying that there are such games as fetch and "go find it!" Check out the article Games to Play with your Dog for more ideas!
It's important that you supervise your dog while he spends time in the yard. You don't want him developing bad habits like barking at passers-by, fence running, or chasing small critters that enter the yard unwittingly. And of course, too much time outside, especially on especially hot or cold days (depending on the dog), can be dangerous, so watch for signs of excessive panting, heat exhaustion, or shivering. If your pooch asks to go inside, he's had enough!