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When it comes down to it, at the core of enrichment is variety – a variety of activities, puzzles, and experiences. And all of that variety can get pretty expensive, unless you mix in some awesome DIY activities. To that end, we have compiled our list of favorite backyard-friendly games to provide a sensory experience and enrich your pup’s play time.
Recall Relay: With a team of at least two people, stand apart from each other and call your dog back and forth. As she arrives, give her a treat to keep the game rewarding. As she gets better at the game, you can increase the challenge by moving to the other side of the house and then up it again by changing places for each turn. She’ll be learning, thinking and exercising!
Ice Block: In a large bowl, freeze a mix of berries and your dog’s favorite toys or treats. On a hot day, allow her to bite, lick and nudge her way through it to get at the goodies. This provides her with a new sensory experience and helps her cool down on a hot day.
Bubbles: Many dogs love to snap bubbles, and it’s a perfect game for pups to play with kiddos (supervised, of course). Commercial bubbles can have chemical ingredients that dogs and kids shouldn’t ingest, so make your own with this super safe recipe.
Backyard Agility: No equipment necessary! Use what you already have to create an obstacle course that challenges your dog physically and mentally.
Dig Pit: In an unused corner of your yard, dump some sandbox sand and toss in a handful of durable toys. If you want to save your grass, you can also upcycle your kids’ old kiddie pool and fill that with sand. Bonus: This deters diggers from plowing through your flower garden!
Whichever you choose, take time to help your dog figure out what you expect. Be patient; don’t expect your dog to know how to solve a puzzle right away. Share the experience, praise little wins, and appreciate how hard your pup is working to figure it out (kind of like a small child learning to put together a puzzle for the first time).