Thinking of new and exciting games to play with your pooch can be difficult, especially if you’ve exhausted the thrills of ‘hide and seek,’ and want to play a more exciting game than ‘fetch.’
With our list of outdoor dog games, you can be more adventurous at playtime and enjoy the great outdoors come rain or shine!
1. Teach your dog to catch a Frisbee
Playing flying disc, or Frisbee, is a great alternative to throwing a stick or a ball and it’s an excellent form of exercise too! If your dog is already good at catching toys and bringing them back to you, they’ll be quick at learning how to play with a Frisbee and the game will be even more fun for the both of you.
All you need to get started is a Frisbee and the great outdoors! Begin your game by throwing the Frisbee lightly, and once your dog has gotten used to catching and retrieving you can start to increase the height and the distance of each throw.
This outdoor dog game is great if you’re short on time and aren’t able to go on a long daily walk. The quick bursts of energy spent running to catch the Frisbee and bringing it back will tire your enthusiastic dog out in no time!
2. Go for a swim
Most dogs love to play in water and will jump at the chance to dive into a lake for a swim. That’s what makes playing with your dog outside even easier if you have water nearby where you can take your dog for a quick dip – especially on a hot day!
Throwing a ball into water for your dog to retrieve is a great outdoor dog game – just make sure it floats, and that it is a suitable size for your dog. Many pet stores even sell balls made specifically for dogs to play with in water. Not only will your dog be catching and retrieving the ball but they’ll be swimming for it too. Swimming is excellent exercise for dogs of all ages – it’s good for puppy and adult exercise and great for older dogs as it’s easy on their joints and helps improve muscular strength.
If you’re without a lake or a river nearby, let your dog make a splash in their very own paddling pool or get out the hose and let them chase the water around the garden. There’s nothing more enjoyable on a hot sunny day than a wet outdoor dog game that will help your dog burn off lots of energy and cool down at the same time.
3. Dog agility
Agility is a fantastic way to spend time playing with your dog outside and it’s all about building up a relationship between you and your dog. It provides exercise that improves your dog’s behaviour and mental stimulation whilst allowing them to have fun at the same time – what could be better?
Your dog doesn’t need to go to agility training classes or be at competition level to enjoy jumping over hurdles and weaving round poles. To get you started with this fun outdoor dog game, all you need is a big open space and some obstacles for your dog to manoeuvre round.
If your dog knows the basic commands such as, ‘sit’ and ‘down’, then they’ll just need guiding round each obstacle until they almost memorise the routine. Set out some cones and guide your dog in and out of them until they can weave around them on their own. Reward them after each pattern and praise them for their hard work!
4. Teach your dog to play football
While you might not be able to form your own four-legged five a side team, after teaching your dog how to play football you can guarantee you’ll both be enjoying time outdoors together.
Football can be a great outdoor dog game and with a quick training session, you can teach your dog to pass the ball in no time. Just make sure you use a ball that’s the right size for your dog to safely and easily pick up – you might even be able to find one made specifically for dogs! The easiest way to teach most dogs to play football is by using their noses, and by keeping the ball in your control you can stop your dog getting too carried away.
Encourage your dog to nudge the ball and reward them every time they move it without playing with it. You can encourage your pup to touch the ball with a voice command and they’ll be much more likely to do so if it’s moving. With every nudge they give the ball, reward and praise them until they’re eventually dribbling the ball.
5. Dog treat game
Have fun with this outdoor dog game by creating a treat trail with some of your dog’s favourite treats. Just remember that treats should be given to your dog as part of a balanced diet with enough exercise, and that any treats they eat should count towards their daily food allowance. Dog treat games work particularly well for dogs who were originally bred to follow scent trails, such as Beagles. However, any dog can enjoy this game – just adjust the difficulty level to suit their skills, and progressively make it trickier to keep them entertained.
Show them the treat
To begin this outdoor dog game, start by showing your dog their favourite treat, allowing them to sniff the bag. This way they’ll know there’s a treat on the horizon – but they’re not allowed one yet!
Hide some treats in full view
Go outside, making sure your dog doesn’t follow just yet, and ‘hide’ two treats in full view. Call your dog out to find them – they’ll probably have no trouble at all!
Make it harder
Now, when your dog is not looking, hide another one or two treats. This time you should make it harder by having them out of view, for example behind a flower pot. Call your dog in and let them find the treats, then praise them when they have finished.
Use the ‘wait’ command
Now they have the hang of this dog scent game, it’s time to make this outdoor dog game more challenging! If they know the ‘wait’ command, use this to make sure they don’t start hunting for the treats until you tell them to. This is a great way to add to the anticipation of the game, as well as exercising their patience! If they don’t yet know the ‘wait’ command, this is a great opportunity to teach them.
Introduce the ‘find it’ command
If your dog knows the ‘wait’ command, use the ‘find it’ command to let them know when to start! This may mean saying ‘wait’ while holding their collar, then ‘find it’ while releasing the collar – this will help signal to them what they are meant to do. Give them lots of praise when they start to follow these commands. After a while, you should no longer need to hold their collar.
Make the trail longer and add variation
Now your dog knows how to play this fun outdoor dog game, you can make it last even longer. Put a treat in different areas of the garden and let your dog start at the garden door. They’ll have to work out where the treats are in by using their nose! You can also make a scent trail from the door to the different hiding places by rubbing the treat lightly along the floor to help them out. Make them wait with the ‘wait’ command, then let them start with the ‘find it’ command.
There’s no need to stop with treats – why not use other objects in this fun outdoor dog game? Show them their favourite toy, a piece of carrot or something else that has a distinct smell (and is dog-friendly), then instruct them to wait while you hide it somewhere. Once they understand the aim of the game, they should be able to sniff out a wide variety of different objects! Just remember to praise them, and maybe give them a treat, once they’ve sniffed out their target.
Whether you want to start training your dog to enter competitions or just want to have fun together, playing outdoor dog games offers lots of benefits for both of you. It’s not just the fresh air and exercise that will do you good, but being outside lets you spend more time together and develop your existing bond too.