When you come home from running errands and let your sweet fur baby outside to potty and play, are they occupied and having fun? Or do they come running back to the door, waiting for you to let them in so they can have some playtime or cuddles with you?
Just having a backyard for your dog may not be enough to meet their physical and emotional needs. Some breeds need constant activity and challenge to feel satisfied.
Not meeting those needs can lead to excessive chewing around the house, tearing into the trash can, or even separation anxiety.
So, how can you turn your backyard into your dog’s dream playground?
Consider Your Dog’s Needs
If you have very active breeds such as Labs, German Shephards, German Short-Haired Pointers, or any other “working” breed, they constantly need to feel like they’re accomplishing something.
It’s in their DNA to be active and problem-solve, so they would greatly benefit from having a space to be physically and mentally challenged.
It’s hard to make it to the dog park every week. Even if you live in an apartment with a designated area for this, you might not have the time to sit outside with them and monitor them.
When you have an active breed, it’s essential to have a variety of equipment that your fur baby has access to daily.
Backyard playground areas are fantastic for stimulation and physical activity. Regardless of the breed or size, they need something that challenges them throughout the day.
In addition to stimulation, this will get them used to various sounds, colors, textures, heights, and experiences.
Exposure to these different elements will help them adjust to new settings and situations without feeling intimidated or nervous.
It can give them confidence when meeting new dogs and people, which means there’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about.
While it may take some up-front cash and time to set up the perfect backyard playground, it’s absolutely worth it. It’s an investment that will pay off throughout the life of your pup.
Providing them with the opportunity to stay physically and mentally challenged is an invaluable gift. They need constant stimulation to learn and grow, and creating an area outside of your home is a great way to meet that need.
Chances are, it will help with behavior issues if your perfect angel has been acting out recently. It gives them a chance to be curious, active, and energetic in an appropriate area.
The confidence they learn through obstacle courses and agility exercises will help them socialize with other pets and humans, which is another long-term benefit that your investment will give you.
You’ll have to put in some quality time while you teach them about each element, but after they’re trained, they can entertain themselves for hours through stimulation and curiosity.
Now that you have some background on the benefits, how can you implement this in your own backyard? Check out these ideas for some inspiration!
6 Backyard Dog Playgrounds
1. Small Obstacle Course
Creating a small obstacle course doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. Using household items such as an extra piece of wood, an old step stool, or small cones can be turned into something useful.
Now, this may not look like a professional agility course, but it will undoubtedly give your fur baby some exposure to different challenges, colors, and textures.
Use the piece of wood to create an obstacle that your dog can jump over or even walk on. This teaches them spatial awareness and balance.
Set up an old step stool that is flat on the top, and place one end of a piece of wood on the top and the other end on the ground. This allows them to climb up the steps in the front and go down a balance beam on the back.
You can set up cones in a row and guide your fur baby to weave in and out through them, teaching them agility and how to follow your lead.
2. Use a Kiddie Pool
Add water to your backyard! Chances are, your pup loves playing in the water. It’s in their blood to naturally understand what to do when they see a pool of water.
If you’re not sure how they will handle water, start by only filling the kiddie pool with 1-2 inches of water. This introduces them to a pool of water without posing any danger of them drowning or inhaling the water.
As they become more comfortable, you can eventually fill up the whole pool and watch them go to town on a hot summer’s day.
It’ll keep them occupied for hours, introduce them to a new element, and give them the confidence they need if they ever find themselves in a situation where they need to swim to safety.
The best part is, you can throw some shampoo into the mix and bathe them while they’re having fun. Even if you don’t throw shampoo in the pool, it will help your dogs become comfortable with water and make showering them in a tub a bit easier.
The only word of warning is that if you have a shaggy, long-haired dog, you may want to keep the water level in the pool pretty low. If you do not actively dry out your shaggy dog after it is wet, its hair will become matted.
3. Incorporate New Textures
While this may seem like a trivial need, it can make a huge difference for your fur baby. Exposing your dog to new textures is a great way to increase physical and mental stimulation.
Use natural wood, plastic, smooth elements, rough elements, and different fabric types.
At some point, your pup may be exposed to any of these textures either around the house, on a walk, or at the local park.
Exposing them to these elements and textures in your own yard allows them to have experience and confidence around them in other settings. It could also curb their curiosity, preventing them from tearing into things while they’re in the house.
4. Use Tunnels
Not only will your pup love running through a tunnel in the yard, but it’s also one of the best elements for stimulation and building their confidence.
Many dogs will hesitate to go through a tunnel without coaxing for the first time. It puts them in a vulnerable situation, and they may need a treat waiting for them on the other side the first few times.
Getting comfortable with tunnels is a huge confidence builder for your pup. It will teach them to go out of their comfort zone, and it will teach them to stay focused on the task.
The training tunnels are typically easy to find. You could even use cat tunnels for small breeds or puppies, which could save you a good bit of money.
Training your dog to go through tunnels will expose them to a new texture and different colors. It’s also a great way to keep them occupied for a long period of time (after they’ve gotten used to it, of course).
5. Utilize a Wooden Seesaw
You may already have a seesaw lying around somewhere if you have children. These provide hours of fun to your children, but they can also be a great tool for stimulation and learning for your pups!
Teaching your dog how to use a seesaw will require some patience, so try not to give up on them! They might be skeptical at first and try to jump off the sides. This is completely normal!
It will take them several tries to figure out the natural motion of the seesaw. Using a wooden seesaw instead of a plastic one will give them extra grip and feel more natural, so if you’re not having luck with plastic, try to switch to wood.
As they practice this, it teaches them stability, balance, and increases confidence, all of which are very important for a dog to have.
It’s a great way to bond with your pup and teach them a new skill that could one day be necessary for them in a dangerous situation.