The weather has gotten a lot hotter a lot faster than anyone may have expected. It’s still important for both kids and dogs to go outside and play, so the best time is early morning until about 10 a.m., before the sun’s rays become intense, or after 4 p.m.
Children do not sweat as much as adults, and dogs will pant, or sweat only through their paws, so it’s important to limit outdoor exposure for them in the heat.
Here are some fun summer backyard play activities for your kids and dogs – great bonding time! Of course, all activities should be supervised by an adult.
Dog Pool Party: Have some backyard fun with a kiddie pool or a sprinkler. Invite neighborhood friends and their friendly dogs for a party. Make sure that puppies or small dogs can stand with their heads above the pool water level. If the little kids complain about water getting splashed in their eyes, have some goggles on hand for them to use.
Pupsicles: When appetites build, what can you serve? Pupsicles! Make pupsicles the day before. Use ½ cup of unsweetened yogurt blended with 2 cups of de-seeded watermelon (or cantaloupe, strawberries or bananas). Freeze the mix in an ice cube tray for dogs and in popsicle forms for the kids.
These will make a cooling outdoor treat – too messy for indoors. You can also serve the mix refrigerated, in paper cups, as a sundae topped with bacon bits or tiny treats for dogs. Children can enjoy their sundae topped with dog-friendly mini carob bits.
Paparazzi Day: Get disposable cameras for the kids to practice taking their own summer photos of each other and the family dog against the lush backgrounds of summer. They will have forever memories to keep of happy days.
Play Sniff and Seek: Teach your dog to recognize the scent of a strong-smelling dog treat such as peanut butter, bacon or char-grilled flavor treat. Then hide some of these treats in the backyard, and encourage your puppy to find them. Don’t forget to praise your canine detective.
Bubble Bust: Get some dog-safe bubble stuff and a wand that makes big bubbles, so the children can run around the yard making giant bubbles for the dog to chase and pop. Show them how the sun makes bubbles turn iridescent colors that seem magical.
Rubber or Nerf Frisbee: A standard plastic Frisbee can hurt your pet’s teeth, but these soft throw toys can teach your children precision throwing while your pet has fun catching it. If it’s too difficult for your children to throw things Frisbee-style, get a Nerf-type ball that is lightweight to throw, but large enough so your pet can’t accidentally get it caught in his throat.
Simple Soccer: Find a soccer ball or a soft plastic ball that is soccer sized, and then let the children kick the ball and run. Your dog will love getting in on the fun. Let her chase it, and teach her to push it back for another kick.
Pit Ball: Put a bunch of plastic balls or plastic water bottles in a dry kiddie pool, and mix in a big bowlful of kibble. Then let your dog root through the balls for treats. This is a great game for little dogs or puppies that may be too small for pool water-wading. The kids help guide them to the next treat from the sidelines.
Remember the fun you had with your pets as a youngster. Most likely there are more treasured childhood pet activities you can share with your children now to make this summer a memorable one for everyone.