Having a backyard for your dog to play in is great, but sniffing the same grass every afternoon can get boring. Enhance their play space with enrichment activities to get their mind and body engaged! Dog enrichment activities add variety to your dog’s normal routine by making them use their brain to problem solve while getting physical energy out at the same time. That means your dog is going to be happy, satisfied, and ready for a good nap afterwards!
Here are 5 simple backyard dog enrichment activities to try: 1. Treasure Hunt Give your dog all the fun of a good old fashioned scavenger hunt and put their powerful nose to work with a backyard treasure hunt! All you need is some treats your dog loves to set up the hunt.
Set Up: Grab a handful of your pups favorite treats and get to work hiding them around your yard—in the grass, behind bushes, and under your patio chairs. Then let your dog loose to go sniff out their tasty prizes! The first time you play, you may want to let your dog watch you hide a couple of treats so they can figure out the game. As they advance, you can keep them inside until you’re done hiding the treats so they go in blind! Adjust your hiding places to keep them challenged, and use treats with a more potent aroma if they’re struggling to find them.
2. Puppy Pool We all know about kiddie pools—so why not give your dog their own puppy pool? You can grab the old kiddie pool from storage or pick up a bargain one to be your dog’s new favorite summer hangout spot. Add in your dogs favorite ball or even a floating duck, just like that, you’ve got the perfect water activity for every occasion!
Set Up: Grab your hose and fill up the pool a few inches to see how your dog likes it. Soaking their paws and giving them the option to lay down and wet their tummy is all you need for your dog to get the cooling benefits of the water on a sweltering hot day! If your dog loves the water, fill it up so they can get their splash on.
3. DIY Agility Course Have you ever watched the pro-level agility dogs run an agility course and thought, “My dog would love to do that”? They don’t have to go pro to enjoy their own DIY backyard dog obstacle course! You can use supplies you may already have laying around the house to create a wildly fun backyard playground.
PVC pipes are a bargain and are perfect for building your own jumps, but even a cardboard box can work for one-time use! If you already have playground equipment like a balance beam or seesaw in your backyard, your dog can take full advantage of it for their own play time. It might take a few tries and a lot of treats for your dog to figure out what to do with all these new obstacles, but before long they’ll be hopping over your homemade jumps like a pro (or at least a semi-pro). 4. Human-Approved Shredding Does your dog have the drive to tear things to shreds? Our sympathies to their tattered stuffed animals, but you can put that instinct to work in a place where it’s a-okay to make a big mess! Our favorite things to let our dogs shred are cardboard boxes and cabbages. (Yes, you read that right—cabbages.)
Set up: Most of us have extra cardboard boxes kicking around from our most recent online orders, so put those boxes to use by popping a few treats inside and then folding the box closed before letting your dog tear it to shreds to get the goodies inside! You can take it to the next level by nesting smaller and smaller treat-filled boxes inside each other to keep the game going even longer. If you’re looking to let your dog snack on something a little greener, have you ever tried giving them a whole cabbage? Many dogs love to peel them apart layer by layer and snack on healthy, dog-safe greens as they do. The softness of cabbage leaves even makes this a safe puppy enrichment activity for their sensitive teeth.
5. Digging Pit If your dog has ever tried to dig up your flower beds, redirect that energy to a place you want your dog to dig! All you need is an unused garden bed, sand box, or kiddie pool and some play sand.
Set up: Fill your digging zone of choice with sand, then bury a few treats or favorite toys in there! Your dog’s nose should immediately pick up on the scent of their beloved toys or savory proteins and guide them as they go wild excavating their new favorite play area. Any one of these outdoor activities is perfect for a more stimulating yard and an amazing afternoon for your pup! Once you’ve checked mental
stimulation and physical activity off their to-do list, it’s time to head in to relax with your tuckered out dog!