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13 Outdoor Games for Dogs to Play This Summer

Written by: Matt Jackson

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

man playing frisbee with golden retriever dog

13 Outdoor Games for Dogs to Play This Summer

Some dogs love the outdoors. They’ll spend as much time as possible frolicking in the grass and charging down the beach. It gives your dog a chance to socialize while taking in the sights and smells they miss when they’re cooped up indoors. It also gives much greater scope for intensive exercise, training, leash work, and bonding between the two of you.

But, unless you can come up with fun games to play, the excitement can soon wear off for both of you.

Below are 13 outdoor games for dogs to play this summer, including some you can set up at home and some that you will need to find a local group or organization to enable you to partake in the fun.

The 13 Outdoor Games for Dogs to Play This Summer

1. Fetch

Close up portrait of dog playing fetch with colorful toy rope
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock
What You Need: Ball, fetch toy

Fetch is a classic outdoor game beloved by dogs and owners of all types. It will mean training some dogs to bring the ball or toy back before it can be thrown again, but some breeds, especially retriever breeds, will fetch the ball and bring it back instinctively.

If you find it difficult to throw the ball far enough to interest your dog, you can get launchers that enable you to sling the ball further and with less pressure on the shoulders. You can also opt for floating fetch balls and other floating toys if you intend to play the game around water.

2. Chase

dogs chasing each other at the park
Image Credit: elbud, Shutterstock
What You Need: Ball, fetch toy

Chase is essentially half a game of fetch, but it means you, as the thrower, don’t have to be stationary. If you walk your dog off-leash, where permitted, you can throw a ball, toy, or frisbee, and have your dog chase it. Alternatively, you can have your dog chase you, although it won’t prove much of a challenge for Greyhounds and other speedy runners.

3. Swim

Labrador Retriever dog swimming
Image Credit: Wasitt Hemwarapornchai, Shutterstock
What You Need: Water, water toys

While some dogs will do everything in their power to get away from water, others love nothing more than running and leaping in the nearest deep puddle. If you live near a beach, walk by the water’s edge and let your dog run in. You can try throwing a ball in the water but be prepared to go in and retrieve it if your dog refuses.

Always make sure you know the rules regarding leash use and whether dogs are allowed in the water, and research the quality of the water and whether there is any wildlife in or near the water that you should look out for.

While your dog won’t be able to swim in it, you can set up a paddling pool or set a sprinkler going in the yard. Throw their toy in and have them retrieve it. It’s good practice for open water and it provides an opportunity to cool down.

4. Agility

Alaskan Klee Kai Leaping Over a Jump at a Dog Agility Trial
Image Credit: Mark Herreid, Shutterstock
What You Need: Agility jumps, tunnels, etc.

You can take your dog to agility classes. You can also set up your own dog agility course at home. You need small jumps, tunnels, and slalom poles to set up a small course. While it won’t exactly mirror a professional agility course, it will give you a chance to work on some of the commands and the exercises that would be needed at a full-size course, and it will give you a chance to burn off your pup’s energy.

5. Hide and Seek

beagle dog sniffing the grass
Image Credit: algae, Shutterstock
What You Need: Treats, hiding places

If you have a lot of space, and your dog has a good stay command, you can try playing hide and seek, although it will go better with two people: one to hold the dog and the other to hide. If you don’t have enough space, or if your dog finds you too easily, you can advance to some basic nose work by hiding a treat around the garden.

Let your dog see and sniff the treat, have somebody hold them, and then hide the treat and tell your dog to go and find it.

6. Flyball

Danish Swedish Farmdog playing fetch playing
Image Credit: Rolf_52, Shutterstock
What You Need: Tennis ball

Flyball is an event that combines running, hurdling, and fetching. Teams of dogs line up, and run down a course, jumping over a series of hurdles. When they reach the end of the course, they step on a spring-loaded pad that releases a tennis ball. They grab the tennis ball and sprint back to the start. As the dog passes a given line, the next dog in the team sets off. The team that gets their last dog back first is the winner.

Flyball courses can be found indoors and outdoors, and you can set up a practice course in your own garden. If you don’t have a tennis ball launch pad, you can practice by having the ball on the ground.

7. Canicross

man running with Siberian Husky dog
Image Credit:, Shutterstock
What You Need: Running trails

Canicross was originally developed as a means of keeping mushing dogs in shape during the off-season, but it has become popular in its own right within the U.S. and UK. Dogs are harnessed to their owners, and both set off cross-country running. The dog runs in front and the handler issues commands to effectively steer the dog.

Canicross is a decent way for the owner and their dogs to get in shape, but it does require training directional commands to the dog.

8. Disc Dog

brown australian shepherd catches the frisbee in the air
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock
What You Need: Frisbee

Disc dog is a series of events for dogs and their handlers using frisbees or throwing discs. Events include distance catching and freestyle catching, which is essentially a choreographed throwing and catching routine. If your dog enjoys catching frisbees, this is a great way to take it to the next level.

It is low cost, can be practiced in the yard, and there are regular events and competitions.

9. Lure Coursing

German Shorthaired Pointer dog running lure course
Image Credit: Charlotte Lehman, Shutterstock
What You Need: Coursing track

Lure coursing is a form of dog racing typically reserved for sighthound breeds. In the race, a mechanical lure is pulled around a track and the dogs chase to try and catch it or cross the finish line first.

Greyhound racing is lure coursing, and Greyhounds are the most commonly used breed because they are the fastest breed, able to attain speeds of up to 42 miles per hour.

10. Nose Work

young dog sniffing at the park
Image Credit: Ryan Brix, Shutterstock
What You Need: Treats, scented toys

While lure coursing plays to a dog’s incredible sense of sight, nose work events are for dogs with strong senses of smell. Sniffer dogs and rescue dogs rely on their ability to be able to detect smells from considerable distances, and nose work events challenge these senses.

You can set up your own nose work games in the garden, by hiding scents around the garden and having your dog find them. You can even take this further afield by having somebody leave treats and other scents in the park or on your walk.

11. Dock Diving

yellow labrador jumps off the dock
Image Credit: Cindy Hughes, Shutterstock
What You Need: Water

Dock diving is an event where dogs are judged for the distance or height they jump off a dock into water. Not all dogs will take to dock diving because it means the dog needs to enjoy being in the water and they need to be willing to jump into the water without being able to investigate it first.

Training takes time, but it is a great event for those pups that do enjoy swimming.

12. Bikejoring

Bikejoring with a white dog
Image Credit: Pavel1964, Shutterstock
What You Need: Bicycle

Bikejoring is another pulling activity that involves both the dog and its handler. In this case, the dog pulls its owner who is riding on a bike behind. It does require a lot of trust between owner and dog, and you will need to undergo plenty of training before you get on the bike.

In particular, your dog will need to learn to run at a suitable pace and to pick paths that you, on your bike, can follow.

13. Herding

border collie herding a flock of sheep
Image Credit: BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock
What You Need: Livestock for herding

Sheepdog trials are the most common form of herding events, although you can also find duck herding, which is especially suited to smaller dogs and handlers without access to herds of sheep. The Collie is generally considered the best herding breed, but lots of breeds were originally raised for this purpose, so you will see a good variety of dogs taking part.

It’s difficult to practice this event in your yard, but you can practice the commands and directions.

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There are lots of ways you can enjoy the outdoors with your dog. Taking them on long walks and hikes is good exercise and an opportunity for socialization, but it won’t provide the intensive exercise that some breeds need. Outdoor sports and events like the 13 listed above do provide more exercise.

They also stimulate the brain and because they require training and a strong link between handler and owner, they also help strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Featured Image Credit: Gorodenkoff, Shutterstock

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