Below are 10 engaging and stimulating simple garden games to play with your dog, not only will this further strengthen your bond, it will also give you and your dog some mindfulness that you both need.
Let the games begin!
This game is simple to do and it’s a classic. All dogs love a little game of fetch, they love the interaction with their humans and it’s a game that all breeds can enjoy.
It gets their tails wagging and is a good way of giving them a little exercise. Dogs love to fetch you their favourite toys whether it is a tennis ball, squeaky toy or disc.
They don’t always, however, enjoy bringing it back to you, so you may need to do a little training with some treats. Most dogs will pick this up quickly as it is a natural instinct for them. If you are lucky enough to live in a large garden make use of the space by throwing the toy in random and alternating directions as far and as little as you can to get your dogs mind working as well as his body. If you have small yards or long yards use the walls to bounce the ball off to do this.
Where possible always use a soft toy/ball so you don’t damage any windows or pots.
This is another classic game that is similar to fetch. If your dog is good at catching, he/she will love playing this fun game with you. Playing frisbee is a great exercise for your dog especially if you can do this is a large space as they have a natural instinct and drive to chase. If your dog is not familiar with a frisbee you can use a soft disc toy as an alternative.
To teach your dog to play use a soft version to start and roll it to shorter distances. Encourage your dog to chase and retrieve it by using lots of encouragement and praise. Gradually you can build up the distance and then start tossing it in the air.
Treats are a dog’s favourite thing ever (besides their humans) making this a great garden game to play with your dog. It is really easy to set up and it’s a good way of mentally stimulating and challenging your dog by honing in on their natural scent tracking abilities.
Whilst your dog is occupied or in the stay, position start hiding some treats (make sure they are treats that they love) in safe places around the garden; behind a pot, in the grass, on top of a small wall. You can make it as easy or as hard as your dog likes.
Once you have placed the treats in their hiding spots tell your dog to go ‘find the treats’. If this is a new game for you and your dog start by showing him where you have hidden them pointing to the treat as you tell them to find it until they get familiar with the command ‘find the treats’. Once your dog gets used to this game you can start making it more difficult for them.
Hide and seek
Of all the garden games to play with your dog, this is one of our favourites. If you have a large space outside this is another great game for your dog to play. It relies on your dog understanding the stay command or if you have a partner, they can hold your dog back for you. Whilst your partner has your dog or your dog is in the stay position run away and hide behind or under something.
When you are in position shout to your dog to come and find you. When they have discovered your hiding place reward them with lots of praise and maybe even a treat. This game is exciting and mentally stimulating for your dog and they will want to play for hours. Once your dog has got used to this game you can start hiding their favourite toys to mix things up a little.
Make a digging box
If your dog is like my little dachshund they will love to dig for hours. To save my garden and also by giving him fun and engaging activity to play I made him his own digging box. This was super easy to do. Find a shallow container or find an area of your garden you are not precious about and box it off for your pooch using some wood. Fill this with soil or sand and let your dog dig dig dig. You can even start burying toys for them to find.
Tug of War
This is definitely a favourite for a lot of dogs including mine. He loves a game of tug of war and will choose to do this over other games. Make sure you use an appropriate sturdy toy or a rope toy if you have one. This teaches your dog how to be controlled as well as being a great form of exercise for them. Make sure your dog understands that if they start being too rough or their teeth touch your skin then the game is over- drop the toy and tell them no. Once they have mastered tug of war in a safe controlled way, they will enjoy playing against you and they will find it engaging and stimulating.
DIY Obstacle course
This is another great way to get your dogs mind stimulated, give them some exercise and relieve boredom. It’s also a good way to teach your dog some new tricks and teach them some basic obedience.
You can make tunnels by cutting out the bottom of cardboard boxes and get your dog to run through them. You can teach your dog to weave through some cones if you don’t have cones you can use tins or pots.
You can get your dog to jump through a hula hoop or you can have them jump over small objects. Building an obstacle course can be fun to do and your dog can enjoy it for hours. Look on YouTube for some create obedience tricks to teach your dog first.
Teach your dog to play football
Dogs love balls and if you can get them to not run off with the ball or pop it then football is a great form of exercise for your dog. Use a softball so your dog won’t injure themselves and make sure the ball is the right size for your dog before you start. You first need to teach your dog how to nudge the ball with their nose using a voice command (there are lots of videos on YouTube to show you how to do this).
Once your dog has mastered the nudge praise him and start doing this whilst moving with the ball. He will soon be dribbling with you and he may even start tackling you. This is a great game that eventually the family can join in with.
If you have bubble toys in the house this is a great way to amuse dogs. Some dogs love to try and catch the bubbles, blow them in different directions and up to the sky so they can jump up at them and catch them as they are floating down.
Some stores make flavoured bubbles especially for dogs that are not toxic
Water games are always exciting for most dogs, if it’s a hot sunny day and you have a small paddling pool then fill it with shallow water then add treats (e.g. chopped carrots) and floating toys/balls. Your dog will enjoy playing with the water and splashing around as well as keeping cool (be sure to not leave your dog unsupervised and only fill the paddling pool a few inches).
Some dogs love to play with the hosepipe too, use this to get your dog to catch the water or chase the water. This can keep them amused for hours.
Searching for indoor games? Check out this list of DIY indoor enrichment games from fellow Explorer Evie.
Remember to make sure that you and your dog are safe at all times whilst playing games. Always supervise your dogs in the garden and never play off-leash where there is traffic.