Yes! Summer is finally upon us and if I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that being cooped up inside sucks! I’ve also learned that it sucks even more for Gabe, my four-legged mutt. Have you, my fellow puppy parents, noticed your own fur babies scratching at the front door a little more often lately? If you answered “fo shizzle,” then you’ll definitely want to keep reading.
I wanted to make this summer extra special for Gabe. He’s such a loyal and loving pup, he deserves some pure outside enjoyment now that the doors are swinging wide open. So I thought, what do dogs love the most? It was not a hard question to answer. Food! Sleep! Running around like a nut! I took those groundbreaking doggie discoveries and devised a list of fun, warm-weather outdoor activities for Gabe and I to check off.
1. Running through the sprinkler!
On a hot summer day, there’s no beating the pure pleasure of sprinting through a spouting lawn sprinkler (or as I call it, the dogg-o slip ’n slide). Gabe, of course, likes to take it to the next level. He gets a kick out of dodging the sprinkler’s spray, with his tongue flapping out the side of his mouth and his tail going a hundred wags a minute.
Sprinkler time with your pup is also a fantastic way to keep them cool and hydrated while the sun’s rays are shining down in the summer heat. For added puptastic energy, I recommend throwing a toy through the sprinkler to get your dog invested in the activity. Be sure to choose something water-resistant and durable such as the nice assortment here from Angry Orange.
2. An all-encompassing outdoor trek
Obviously everyone takes their dogs out for a walk when it’s time to “do the duty,” but why not pack a few extra “ doo doo” bags and set out on an extended journey? I’m not talking about a drawn-out trudge from the hills of the Shire to the mountains at Mordor, but still aim for a picturesque landscape (and keep your eyes out for Orks).
Last summer, Gabe and I stretched our legs through a historical park, ran through a sunflower field like we were in a sappy romantic comedy, and hiked up a local mountain (where there were no Hobbits to speak of). As always, pack along some toys for fetching, as, if your dog is anything like mine, there is no limit to the number of distractions he likes to engage with. Can you say, “Squirrel!”?
3. Doggie BBQ
Who doesn’t love a big summer cookout? And get this: hot dogs aren’t the only pups invited to your grilling party. Your woofer deserves some tasty summer eats, and I don’t mean mere table scraps. In fact, you should never give your dog table scraps at a barbecue.
Instead, get your dog in on the barbecue action and throw a couple of lean beef or turkey burgers and some sliced sweet potatoes (or any other vegetable) on your grill fo sizzlin’! You can even get creative with some great dog-friendly recipes I found here.
After a hearty barbecue meal, you and your dog can indulge a little palate (and stomach) cleanser with some fresh fruit such as watermelon, blueberries, peaches, and strawberries!
4. Doggie Obstacle Course!
Looking for some enjoyable exercise for your pup? Try turning your backyard into The (dog days of) Summer Olympics with a custom obstacle course! You don’t have to be super fancy or spend a lot of money; In fact, most of the courses I set up utilized items I found lying about the house like large canisters, wooden planks, and some old ventilation ducts. Designing a Doggy Ninja Warrior is also a fun (and funny) activity to take on as a family by coming up with amusingly creative ways for your pooch to participate.
I wanted Gabe to go for gold, so I put out some hurdles for him to jump over, a tunnel for him to run through, and a seesaw for him to walk up and down. You can find many more courses to try right here. Plus, you can also sneak in a few fun training stations. Gabe and I even invited a few of his furry friends over to compete with him and it was a blast (although the neighbor’s Pomeranian was a sore loser in the high jump)!
5. Relax in a hammock!
You’ve run. You’ve splashed. You’ve eaten. You’ve exercised. After a day of fun summer activities for your pup, they’ve earned a calm outdoor summer cool-down.
Relaxing in a hammock is old news for people, but pups love a good hang too! ! The good news is, if you don’t already own a hammock and you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg at some hammock-er schlemmer-type store, there’s a simple alternative. Fashioning a functional hammock out of a drop cloth or beach towel or bed sheet is actually quite easy (and very cost effective). And wouldn’t you know it, no sooner had I secured my makeshift hammock, than Gabe and I were gently swinging back and forth basking in a warm summer breeze.
Before Gabe and I drift off into a little catnap, here are some quick reminders to keep in mind when enjoying some outdoor fun with your dog this summer:
- Be safe! Always make sure your dog remains hydrated while outside. Don’t forget to check for ticks or other bugs if you’re trekking through a wooded area.
- Only grill lean cuts of meat without any nitrates or artificial ingredients. Avoid feeding your pup table scraps.
- Ensure that any obstacle course items or hammocks are sturdy enough to support your pup (Air Bud isn’t as much fun as it sounds, in real life).
- You know your dog better than anyone, so be sure to choose the best activity to match your pup’s pace. Whatever you decide, your furry friend will thank you.
Contributing Writer: Michael Catalano