Top 10 Fun Outdoor Games for Dogs to Play in Your Backyard

Last Updated on July, 2024

You’re here because you care enough for your dog — it’s your family. Outdoor dog games are all you need to improve your dog’s behavior and mental stimulation. It also allows your dog to have fun at the same time. 

The dopamine boost is not only for your dog but also for you.

This is the ultimate guide for any level of a dog parent. Because not only will you learn what these outdoor games are, you’ll also learn HOW to play them in the proper way.

You might as well bookmark the page already. Go ahead; I’ll wait for you and your pup.

So, buckle up! Because this crash course is going to make you an absolute master of dog games outdoors.

Quick Summary

The 10 Fun Outdoor Games are Bubble-it-up, Name Games (Round Robin and Beyond), Hide and Seek, Aquatic Adventures, Tug-of-War, Any Ball Game, The Digging Box, Dog Treasure Hunt, The Flirt Pole, and Diy Agility/Obstacle Course.

Outdoor games provide entertainment for both the dog and the owner.

Dog owners should take precautions to ensure their dog’s safety while playing outdoor games.

Why Outdoor Games, Specifically?

Dogs Playing Games

Let’s look at some of the glaring reasons to play fun outdoor games with your dog.

Dogs are active creatures. This activeness makes them want to run around almost all the time. But, of course, I’m assuming you’re not Will Smith with a manor. So, with enough space outside comes many opportunities. 

Walks can feel a bit boring for dogs sometimes. It can be the same for you as well. These games are designed to make both you and your dog more active. 

You might be looking forward to training your dog. Or, you could be looking for a way to test how trained your dog really is. Outdoor games help you find answers to those two questions.

One last notable reason would be how outdoor games keep your dogs healthy. Needless to say, there are more reasons. 

But we’re about to start talking about what you’re here for — the outdoor games, and how to play them like a pro.

The Top 10 Outdoor Games for Pups in 2022

1. Bubble-it-up

A dog playing with Bubbles

Will a dog love soap bubbles? I assure you, they love soap bubbles just as much as a child. So it’s not a mistake even if pet parents dedicated a full day just to blow soap bubbles for their dogs. But it requires some preparation.

Your dog could be allergic to the soap solution. It’s a risk that must be addressed. So, you should make sure that the chosen soap solution is dog-friendly. However, check out this guide that’ll teach you how to play this game right here.

Key benefit: Pure. Entertainment. The dog’s favorite ball just might become a soap ball.

2. Name Games (Round Robin And Beyond)

2 Humans Playing name game with a dog

Dogs are pretty sensitive to their names, just like ourselves. Round Robin is the most popular name game for dogs. However, there are 2 crucial mistakes that almost all dog parents make. 

The first mistake is giving the treat instead of calling their name first. Your dog loves treats and should be rewarded. But the purpose of the game fails if the dog learns nothing. So, call the name of the dog first, and reward afterwards.

The second mistake is not starting at close quarters. The chosen method should be fun for your dog. So, start with just two people. After that, you can either add more people, or increase the distance between them. Here’s a visual demonstration.

As an advanced version, family members could stand in a round in your backyard. Have your treats and call the pup. This is how many dogs establish great familiarity with family members faster. 

Think of the red light and green light game we play. However, instead of red light and green light, “Stop” and “Come” can be used.

Key benefit: The mental stimulation induction makes dogs more responsive. Responsiveness is essential to training them. And, it doesn’t cost you!

3. Hide And Seek

A Girl Playing hide & seek with a dog

Playing hide and seek is a beautiful memory shared by almost every child. I know It’s one of my core memories from my childhood days.

So, why not bring the same joy for your pup? This game shouldn’t be confused with a treasure hunt. However, most people make a mistake here while playing this game.

The mistake is that you’re hiding while the dog is not paying attention.

Hide while the pup is paying attention. This cue helps many dogs catch up quickly. A study proves it. 

Making a game entertaining for your dog can be a bit of a challenge. So, your focus should be to make this great game as entertaining as you can. So, there is a way to lower the difficulty level and keep the game entertaining for the dog.

Ask someone to hold the pup as you hide; let your dog see you hide. Once the pup finds you after calling its name, reward it handsomely with treats. Make it feel appreciated. We all like treats, don’t we?

With time, you’ll be surprised how your dog responds to even the trickiest command.

Here’s a fun and easy way to train your pup for hide and seek. The process is simply about familiarizing the pet, step by step.

Key benefit: It’s a fun game, AND it makes your pup more responsive and attentive.

4. Aquatic Adventures

Aquatic adventures with dogs

You’d thank God if you saw that little clip of a pup playing with water in a basin. Splashing fun time seldom goes out of style. So, how to do it right?

Not all dogs love playing with hose (although they would like a horse). You should check if the pup’s face doesn’t say, ‘does it look like I’m having fun?’. On the other hand, some dogs would love to do nothing but chase the stream of water flying out of a hose.

What about sprinklers? My dog can’t get enough sprinklers, I’m pretty sure yours will like the same. And, you get to water the backyard as well. How economic!

Most dogs love swimming. But there’s a catch. It would help if you took it slow unless they’re used to swimming.

Also, a life jacket is highly recommended. If you’re unsure how to train your pup for swimming, here’s the process demonstrated; for both puppies and rather grown dogs.

There’s an alternative method if swimming in running waters feels too risky for you (because I can’t swim as well!). You can get yourself an inflatable pool with fresh water! 

With the pool, throw in some floating toys, and you are good to go. Again, it will preserve the mental stimulation perfectly.

Key benefits: These are such as weight management, stress relief, most negligible chances of dry skin, cardiovascular fitness and more.

5. Tug-Of-War

A Boy Playing Tug-Of-War with a dog

Some online sources say tug of war makes dogs aggressive. This is completely untrue. Not only that, it’s proven by a study. This research has revealed that tug of war helps dogs develop more confidence in people interactions.

However, this is one of the games to play carefully by default. Because you might fall back if you lose the grip, however, a proper approach could contain. The golden rule is that you control the drop. 

We don’t recommend playing tug of war with everything your dog brings up to you. That gives them the control. It could make the dogs disobey. So, here’s a thorough guide on how to train your dogs to drop on cue.

Key benefits: Strengthening of teeth and improved overall mental stimulation.

6. Any Ball Game (And More)

Ball Game with dog

We talked about soap bubbles and balls. So, our focus is on more rigid ones — for example, soccer or basketball. But it would do the job if you’ve got a ball of any kind and outdoor space.

But getting a dog to love ball games can be a bit tricky. Why so? Because they don’t have an intelligent instinct to know what to do. The process should be gradual. But don’t worry; it doesn’t take so long. 

First, you should attain the attention of the pup. Then, it’s followed by light dribbling between the playing people, until the pup interferes.

After that, it’s just a matter of passing the ball as the pup chases it. In fact, here’s how it is demonstrated elaborately.

In addition, tennis balls are one of the favorites of dogs. It doesn’t have to be fetched at all. It’s open to your imagination to use the ball.

You also could use an empty laundry basket for basketball. All you need to do is train the dog’s responsiveness better. Then, you can command them to “drop” balls into the laundry basket when the pups take the tennis balls away. That’s easy basketball!

Balls do not necessarily have to be sports-based. They can be toys too.

There are so many types of toys in the form of balls. How many pictures are there online of dogs hugging fluffy toys?

Whether it is a ball or a toy, both types serve the intended purpose. So, although I wasn’t going to mention fetching games, it fits the criteria.

Key benefit: Opens chances for dogs to play on their own with everyday objects.

7. The Digging Box

A Dog Digging a Box

Dogs. Love. Digging! It’s by design.

Dogs digging out buried bones is an image burnt in our brains from cartoons. It’s less messy when you take the digging box outside. So, what and how should you do it?

Your local hardware store probably has all it takes to make a small box. You don’t want it too tall. Just below the knee level of the dog’s leg would be fine. 

You can use a toy to be buried. Fill it up with preferably sand, and you’re good to go. This game can be even entertaining. How? Using the method of “red light, green light”,. You can train your dog’s obeying to both dig and stop at your command.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like making one. Maybe an empty laundry basket should do the trick.

Key benefit: Increases the focus of the dog.

8. Dog Treasure Hunt

2 Dogs searching for something

Who doesn’t like Indiana Jones? It’s a shame our dogs can’t watch it. But you don’t have to worry about bespoke dog treasure hunts. 

This treasure could be based on either treats or toys because the purpose is to let them find the treasure. 

It’s essential to know your backyard and the dog when you’re planning a treasure hut. Here are some key points since this is specifically an outdoor game,

  • Avoid any potentially dangerous spots
  • Plan a proper pathway 
  • Decide if you’re going to hide or bury the treasure
  • Always choose the dog’s favorite toys or dog’s favorite treats

You must guide the dog to some extent. So be sure to be with them in case they’re off the path.

Key benefit: Better bonding with you. Physical, mental, and social skills improvement.

9. The Flirt Pole 

The Flirt Pole Game for dogs

Dogs are a symbol of love and affection. That’s why they respond to love languages better than other pets. That’s precisely the point of the flirt pole. It’s a pole with a rope attached to the end. So, how does it work?

The rope part is again attached to something the dog loves to play with. It could be a toy or even a treat. The purpose is to get the dog to play around with it.

You do not need any more cardio with a game like this. Get in your backyard with a flirt pole, and hand a toy or a treat at the rope’s end. It will be your dog’s new favorite game as you go.

Here is a detailed explanation of how you build one from scratch.

Key benefit: More physical movement for both you and the pet.

10. Diy Agility/ Obstacle Course

DIY agility course for dogs

This fun backyard game needs some money and some labor work as well. Plus, this great game is for well-trained dogs. A backyard agility course is a way if you want to play with your dog memorably.

Preparing an agility course for dogs can be a bit of a challenge. However, the planning and designing process can be broken down.

It is as follows.

  1. Choose the pathway
  2. Choose the materials
  3. Get the spacing between each obstacle right
  4. Ensure the course doesn’t come off easily
  5. Make sure your dog knows the agility/obstacle course perfectly

There are two factors to consider in making the course familiar to the dog.

The first factor is familiarity. You should let the dog walk the course first while guiding it. The easiest method is leaving a trail of treats. 

The second factor is a bit tricky. It is the choice of treats you’d use. What if the dog simply didn’t want anymore after eating the first? That wouldn’t make the dog finish the course, would it? So, you need to choose the treats wisely.

If this is the first time you’re planning to build a course for your dog, check out this complete walkthrough. A well-designed course should help your beloved dog to respond to even the trickiest command.

That’s how to preserve the entertainment of an agility/obstacle course for dogs.

Related: How to Keep a Dog Entertained While You’re At Work?

Long-Term Benefits of Outdoor Playing

Dogs Playing Games

I pray with all my heart for your dog to be free of arthritis as it grows old. But each time they’re swimming and busy with their own splashing, the risk drastically drops. A study has proved it.

If your dog doesn’t get enough outdoor time, there’s one more complication; air quality. Nature offers better than rolled up blankets. A study has proven how extensive exposure to indoor air can develop respiratory diseases.

Most dogs end up quite lazy. This can take a toll on their strength as well. You’d want your dog protecting you when it counts. If outdoor games keep them strong in the long run, that’s exactly what you should do.

Finally, the activeness preserves the health status of the dogs. So, you will be saving a fortune of medical bills in the future.

Quick Precautionary Concerns

As mentioned earlier, playing tug of war with an already aggressive dog is not recommended. Allow me to add some more to the list.

  1. Make sure the chosen type of soap is not allergic to the dog.
  2. Pay attention to the mouth of the dog as you give away a treat.
  3. Don’t overtire your dog.
  4. Reading isn’t enough; obtain visual aids. Especially for agility courses.
  5. Always be prepared to help your dog in case of an emergency.

These precautions don’t mean any of these outdoor games are dangerous. These precautions are to resolve the slightest chance of a risk. That’s how to be good pet parents.

Related article: Best Outdoor Dog Breeds

In Conclusion

Now you know pretty much everything you need to know about outdoor games for dogs. I hope the read was fun and informative. So, I’ve a question for you dog parents what could be your dog’s favorite game from the list?

This wasn’t just an info dump; it’s compiled for dedicated dog parents. But, there are more like you. So, if you liked the article, consider leaving comments and sharing it with your friends. That’s how you make a better place for a canine companion.

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Thomas Villalpando
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of Dogs Academy. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. He has been featured in MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Sun, Entrepreneur & More. You can find more about him here.

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