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Summer is a great time to get outside with your dog and have some fun. The weather is warm, and the kids are home from school. You can hike with your dog, take your dog boating, or go for a picnic.

But there are also all kinds of games you can play right in your backyard. Some require equipment, but others involve nothing more than a ball or some yummy treats. Consider your dog’s activity level, overall health, and personality, then check out this list of fun backyard games to play with them.

Play Hide-and-Seek

It would be quite a trick if your dog could close their eyes and count to ten, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play hide-and-seek together. If your dog is the seeker and you or your kids hide, then your dog can use their powerful nose to locate your hiding spot.

In the beginning, hide in obvious places and call your dog’s name to help them get the hang of things. When they find you, make a big fuss and provide some treats. You can even play in the park or woods for an extra challenge. Simply keep your dog on leash and have somebody walk with them.

Hide Toys and Treats

You can also play hide-and-seek with objects like toys or treats. Hide them all around your yard and let your dog sniff out their locations. Even a handful of kibble tossed in the grass can make mealtime into a game.

Basset Hound sniffing in the garden.
Copyright (c) 2020 Marcelino Pozo Ruiz/Shutterstock

If you don’t want to put food directly on the ground, place it in a food-stuffable toy instead. This is a great way to introduce your dog to the sport of scent work, which involves locating hidden target odors.

Chase Bubbles

Many dogs love to chase and pop bubbles. Luckily, there are non-toxic, dog-safe bubbles available for pets to play with, ones that won’t irritate their eyes. You can even find flavored and scented bubbles in varieties like bacon or peanut butter. Or try making your own dog-safe recipe.

If you have kids in your life, this is a great supervised game for them to play with your dog. After all, kids love blowing bubbles as much as dogs love chasing them.

Play Fetch Through the Sprinkler

The heat of summer is hard on dogs. Fetch through the sprinkler (or through the dog splash pad) is a fun way to keep your dog cool while they play. Simply aim your throws so that, in order to retrieve the ball or toy, your dog needs to cross the fan of water from a sprinkler or splash pad.

Chocolate Labrador Retriever playing with a sprinkler in the yard.
Joshua_Todd/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Not all dogs know how to fetch, but most can learn to enjoy it. Teach them to fetch by training your dog in some simple cues like “take it” and “drop it.”

Chase a Flying Disc

Throwing a flying disc is another great way to let your dog express their instinct to chase moving objects. You can try for the longest catch or the highest. Or you can build tricks into the game. For example, your dog can jump over your outstretched leg before catching the disc.

If your dog enjoys this activity, you can even earn titles in Disc Dog. Kids can throw the disc, too. If they aren’t accurate in their throws, that will only add to the fun from your dog’s point of view.

Play Keep-Away

The opposite of fetch, this activity is fun for you and your dog. Several people can toss a ball back and forth and your dog only gets it when somebody misses their catch. You can also try this with a soccer ball.

Norwegian Lundehund puppy playing with a ball in the grass.
Marielle -

You can perfect your footwork while your dog tries to steal the ball. Or gather a group of friends and play a soccer game against your dog. Lose one point every time your dog nabs the ball. Just be sure your dog is having fun rather than feeling frustrated.

Enjoy Backyard Agility

The sport of agility is exciting but requires specialized training and equipment. However, there’s no reason you can’t build your own obstacle course in the backyard just for fun. Use it to play games or build agility skills at home to supplement training classes.

Obstacles, like a tunnel made from large cardboard boxes, can be simple, or you can build your own jumps and weave poles with PVC pipe. You can also purchase simple agility kits online. Keep the obstacles low for safety and reward your dog for tackling each new challenge.

Related article: 12 Dog-Friendly Summer Activities
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