A. In honor of National Kids & Pets Day on April 26, encourage your children to play with your dog in the fresh air and sunshine! Playtime enhances the bond between your two-legged and four-legged family members, too. Here are some outside games and activities to keep your dog and your kids healthy, happy, and safe. Always supervise children and dogs!
Keep your dog motivated with praise, belly rubs, favorite toys, or treats. If you do use treats, one way to keep your dog from gaining weight from too many snacks is to use some of his mealtime kibble to play the games. As with any activity, keep each session short and fun! It’s better to end the game before your dog gets bored or overly excited.
Take your dog to a large enclosed area or fenced yard and have him follow your child around as he delivers instructions such as SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME. Give lots of praise when your dog completes the correct action. Move on to more advanced commands, such as BACK UP, JUMP over something, CIRCLE around, etc. Continue having your child walking around the area so that your dog has to focus his attention on the child!
For a twist on traditional fetch, your child can grab a Wiffle bat and a dog-safe ball to hit across the yard and have your dog play outfielder–no glove required! Try not to hit another ball until your dog has brought the first all the way back to your child so that he learns he must return the item for the game to continue.
WET & WILD
Fill up a kiddie pool with water and encourage your dog to splash around. For even more fun, grab a hose and have your dog chase the stream of water in and out of the pool. Add some dog-safe shampoo to combine playtime and a bath. Be sure to include adult supervision and plenty of towels!
Start with your dog in a SIT/STAY, allowing him to smell a treat, then have your child hide it somewhere in the yard. Release your dog from the SIT and watch him explore to find it! As your dog masters the game, add a degree of difficulty by getting your child to hide a number of treats in advance. Favorite dog toys can be substituted for treats if your dog prefers them.