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12 Dog-Friendly Summer Activities


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Summertime is perfect for outdoor fun. And it’s even better if your dog can join in. There are oodles of activities to try, from old standbys like fetch to more adventurous pursuits like hitting the trail for a hike. Consider your dog’s personality, activity level, and interests to be certain you find the perfect match. If you’re looking for some inspiration, the following list is sure to contain some ideas both you and your dog will enjoy.

Have a Pet Portrait Session

Summer makes a beautiful backdrop for a pet portrait session. You can even enlist the help of a friend and get in the picture with your pooch. Avoid the harsh shadows of midday and set your camera or phone on burst so you don’t miss a thing. The trick to capturing your dog’s best expression is to ensure they’re enjoying the experience. Go somewhere familiar and use treats and toys to hold their interest.

Make Frozen Dog Treats

Help your dog cool off on hot days with frozen goodies. A simple trick is to take a food-stuffable toy, like a classic Kong, and freeze it after filling. Another easy treat is frozen fruit chunks like watermelon cubes. You can also make ice cubes using no-salt added chicken broth. Finally, get more adventurous and try a recipe for pupsicles or soft serve treats.

Try Scent Work

Scent work is all about letting your dog do what they do best – sniff. All you need is a DIY beginner’s kit with some essential oils, jars, and cotton swabs. Then, with a few simple lessons, you can start playing in the backyard or park. For an informal version of the game, hide treats around your yard or sprinkle kibble in the lawn and let your dog sniff for the goodies.

Cocker Spaniel fetching a ball in the yard.

Enjoy a Picnic

If you can’t find a restaurant that welcomes dogs on the patio, try a picnic instead. Bring a blanket big enough for you and your dog, and don’t forget to pack some dog-safe foods your pup can share. If you take a long walk ahead of time or otherwise exercise your dog, they will be far more likely to relax while you eat.

Have a Puppy Party

If your dog has some friends in the neighborhood, try throwing a puppy party. It’s a chance for the dogs to play and the owners to socialize. Make sure there are enough toys to go around, and if you BBQ or provide food for the owners, make sure unsafe items like chicken bones or onion slices are out of reach of the dogs. To add an extra dimension, include a used toy exchange. Each owner can bring a toy their dog no longer uses.

Take a Dog Training Class

Some training schools provide outdoor obedience classes in the summer. Not only do you get to enjoy the weather, but there are plenty of distractions you can incorporate into your training. Or if you’re looking for an entirely new way to play with your dog, consider trying a dog sport like agilitydock diving, or disc dog. You and your dog will build your bond as you learn to work together as a team.

summer picnic with dog

Build a Backyard Agility Course

Build your own backyard obstacle course just for fun or to build agility skills at home. There are kits you can buy or you can DIY some simple obstacles with PVC pipe and some wood. Just be sure to keep the obstacles low for safety and let your dog go at their own pace.

Head to the Dog Park

Many dogs love the excitement of the dog park. If you want to guarantee there are some appropriate playmates for your pup, schedule dates with owners and dogs you already know. If you’re there on your own, watch the interactions between the other dogs before you let your dog off leash. It’s important the experience is positive and not overwhelming.

Play Bobbing for Kibble

Playing in the water is a great way for your dog to keep cool. You can play fetch through the sprinkler, hose them down, or let them paddle at the beach. Another fun game is bobbing for kibble. Fill a kiddie pool with a few inches of water and toss in a handful of kibble or other treats like apple slices. Let your dog jump in and retrieve the treats.

Golden Retriever swimming wearing a life vest fetching a toy.

Go For a Swim

Take your dog to a lake, river, or beach and let them swim. Play together in the water or toss a floating toy for them to retrieve. Just be sure to always supervise your dog and provide plenty of fresh water to discourage drinking while they swim. Not all dogs are naturals in the water, so teach your dog to swim and provide a life jacket to boost their confidence.

Take a Boat Ride

Consider taking your dog for a boat ride. They can join you on a motorboat, canoe, kayak, or even a stand-up paddleboard. Be sure to put your dog in a life jacket and do some simple training beforehand in shallow water. For everyone’s safety, you want to be sure your dog is calm and comfortable in the boat.

Create Some Paw Art

Let your dog express their inner artist with some paw painting. All you need for your dog’s masterpiece are some nontoxic washable paints and a large piece of paper. Dip your dog’s paws in the paint and then encourage them to walk across the papermaking art as they go. And when you’re satisfied with the results, finish off by giving your dog an outdoor bath.

No matter which of these activities you decide to try, remember that dogs can easily overheat in the summer. Stick to cooler days or early morning/evening when the sun isn’t as strong. And provide plenty of opportunities for a drink and a rest.

The post 12 Dog-Friendly Summer Activities appeared first on American Kennel Club.

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