Five Eco-Friendly Outdoor Games For Dogs That You Will Enjoy Too

With these five fun, easy, and unique outdoor games for dogs, you can spend some quality time with your pup without making a paw print on the planet.

mixed breed dog ready to play

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Enjoying the Great Outdoors with Your Pup

It’s the end of July, and I’m already starting to see posts, pins, and advertisements about autumn. But the dog days of summer are not over just yet! In fact, in Spain, August is the main summer holiday month. 

There is still more than enough time to get outside to enjoy the fresh, warm air and have some fun with our pups! And what better way than with some eco-friendly outdoor games for dogs!

If you don’t have time to get into all the details right now, save the below pin for later.

title of 5 eco-friendly outdoor dog games to play with your pup with image of mixed breed dog searching for a hidden treat

Whether in your own backyard or a local, dog-friendly park, I have some eco-conscious activities to inspire you and your pup to make the most of the sunshine. 

three dogs sitting together on a patio

And most of these are perfect fall and spring weather activities too.

Xtra Health Tip: While summer is a great season to get outdoors, the heat also brings dangers. Avoid being outside during peak temperatures, make sure you and your pup have access to plenty of water and shade, and be aware of the early signs of heat stroke in pets, such as excessive panting and lethargy. 

If you are in search of a sustainable water bottle that keeps drinks ice-cold, learn about one of my favorite options here.

Outdoor Games for Dogs That Are High in Fun and Low in Impact

Green Treat Hunt

Of the new outdoor games for dogs we tried as a family, this one was a favorite all around.

Engage your dog’s senses and provide mental enrichment with a green treat hunt. Hide eco-friendly, natural treats like these and/or small toys in your backyard, and let your pup use their natural instincts to sniff them out. 

treat being placed on ground for dog treat hunt outdoor dog activity
mini dapple dachshund dog participating in treat hunt outdoor dog activity
mixed breed dog participating in treat hunt outdoor dog activity

Xtra Health Tip: For this activity, small training treats are best to avoid overloading your pup with extra calories. There are some great options listed here. Or even whip up your own version using organic ingredients.

An alternative approach is to use a portion of your pup’s regular dog food for the game. Ensure that the amount you use for the hunt is deducted from their normal feeding time to avoid overfeeding.

Not only is this an easy, environmentally friendly way to keep your dog entertained, I found it was so fun and rewarding to watch my pups go on this treat adventure. They were EX-CIT-ED!

And, I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that all three of my pups seemed to understand the rules of the game immediately. While they saw me get out the treats, they stayed inside while my son and I hid the treats around our patio.

And as soon as the door opened, they just knew that there were treats to find! They ran all over the patio, noses to the ground and tails wagging.

We all had so much fun during the whole process, and it kept my son entertained as much as the pups. He just loved picking out the hiding places. And I still have a smile on my face thinking about how much Phoebe, Franklin, and Froda enjoyed this exciting challenge.

This is definitely an activity we’ll work into our routine more regularly.

Sustainable Sock Balloons

This next activity is made for hot, sunny days because it involves…water! None of my three pups particularly enjoy the water, but as many dogs absolutely love getting wet, I had to include a water-based activity in this list. And

it had to be one that is sustainable and acknowledges the fact that many places around the world are in severe drought.

After some brainstorming, I decided to put a new twist on a classic summer activity that is traditionally neither eco-friendly nor dog-friendly…a water balloon fight.

But instead of balloons, grab some old worn-out socks. And instead of filling those socks with water (because, well, that wouldn’t really work), fill them with…1-3 more old, worn-out socks. Tie off the main sock with a single knot just as would with a water balloon.

Next, add some water to a small bucket or large bowl, and soak your sock “balloons” for a few seconds. And, just like that, you now have a sustainable version of a water balloon that you can safely use with your pup…and your kids!

a group of sock balloons
bowl of sock balloons being soaked in water

Use the sock balloons for catch, fetch, or keep-away, and enjoy being lightly sprinkled with water as you play. While my pups weren’t so into this activity, my son and his friends absolutely loved soaking each other over and over again!

And I loved that we didn’t have to send a bunch of small, broken balloon pieces to the landfill.

mini dapple dachshund dog watching as sock balloon is thrown towards her during outdoor dog game

Xtra Eco Tip: Don’t let the bucket water go to waste once playtime is over. Use it for a second purpose, such as to water plants. 

DIY Agility Course

Get creative and build a DIY agility course using natural materials or things you have around the house. Repurpose fallen branches as hurdles, patio tables and chairs as tunnels, and bamboo sticks as weave poles. 

With no need to buy anything, you now have a new mentally stimulating activity that will keep your pup engaged and entertained.

And if you have kids, this will keep them plenty entertained as well. My son loved designing and building the course…and leading our pups through all the elements.

pug mix dog standing for treats during outdoor activity
mini dapple dachshund dog on DIY agility course
mixed breed dog ready for DIY agility course

For our course, we choose some wooden chairs for a weaving challenge, an outdoor playmat for a tunnel, and some secondhand children’s patio furniture for additional obstacles.

We also involved a few treats in the process, meaning our pups were thoroughly engaged and more than happy to try out the different challenges.

After their run through the agility course was over, they all went for a second (and even third) round.

It was evident that, treats aside, they just loved spending time enjoying an activity together with their family. After the agility course fun was over, the playing continued with some energetic games of tag.

And then, rightfully so, it was time for a nice, long nap.

Nature Sniffari

Tap into your dog’s natural instincts and create a nature-themed scavenger hunt. Create a list of natural objects to find, such as pine cones, leaves, or sticks, and explore the outdoors together. 

Encourage your pup to use their keen sense of smell to sniff out each item, promoting a deeper connection with nature. 

Or skip the list altogether and see where the nose leads! The important thing is to do this snifari on your dog’s time. It’s not about the amount of distance covered.

Whether your dog is on a leash or off, stroll slowly. Linger in the same place while your pup explores with their nose. Take notice of what they find most interesting.

mixed breed dog sniffing the ground during a walk in the woods
mini dapple dachshund dog sniffing the ground during a walk in the woods

During our sniffari, I didn’t prompt my pups to keep moving. I let them stay in the same spot and sniff for as long as they wanted. And sniff they did. On multiple occasions, they intently explored the same spot for several minutes.

This was such an easy way to provide my dogs with an engaging activity. In fact, it’s a fantastic bonding experience for the whole family as you can really slow down and show interest in each other’s discoveries. 

Eco-Friendly Fetch

And finally, here is an easy spin on an old classic. Upgrade your fetch game by incorporating a new sustainable toy. Instead of using traditional plastic-based balls, go for a biodegradable tennis ball or a recycled rubber toy.

Or even use a toy that you create yourself, like this simple sock octopus, sock bunny, or sock pumpkin dog toy. These alternatives are durable, safe for your pet, and reduce environmental impact. 

mini dapple dachshund dog playing fetch with DIY sock toy
three dogs playing together on a patio
mini dapple dachshund dog playing with diy sock dog toy

Froda, in particular, is very efficient at destroying tennis balls, so we’ve been keen to find some sustainable fetch options. At the moment, DIY sock toys are our default option. 

During our latest fetch session, the whole family got involved. To be fair, Franklin couldn’t fully participate because he’s currently in a cone. But he hung out and watched.

And Phoebe, who will be 13 (!) on her next birthday as of writing this post, was quite excited and got in some great exercise.

And per usual with Froda, fetch also transitioned in and out of games of tag, keep-away, and gentle tug-of-war. All pups were happily panting by the end of this fun but engaging game together.

Xtra Health Tip: Tug-of-war has a bit of a controversial reputation. Some believe this game is linked to problem behaviors such as dominance or aggression. But expert trainers and science say otherwise. Rather, this is a great way to build confidence and bond with your pup.

It is true that if played incorrectly, this game can cause injury. To keep your dog safe, don’t play too rough, and keep the rounds short (10-15 seconds). During the game, keep your pup’s spine in neutral alignment (don’t twist their neck or lift them off the ground), and use only slight resistance.

Plus, it is important to choose a toy that has some length and is made of a material that is gentle on teeth and gums.

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Discover New Outdoor Games with Your Pup

Of course, not every dog will be into every activity, so find what suits your pup’s preferences, as well as your own. These activities are meant to be enjoyed together!

And, when it comes to outdoor games for dogs, there are a lot of options to choose from.

My pups each responded differently to the activities and, in some cases, liked an activity more than I expected. So, while you should consider what types of activities your dog tends to gravitate towards, I recommend you experiment with a few from this list.

You might just find a completely new activity to get you and your pup outside, moving, and having fun.

FAQs: Outdoor Games for Dogs

Are these outdoor games suitable for all dogs?

Yes, these games are designed to accommodate dogs of various breeds, sizes, and energy levels. However, it’s essential to consider your dog’s physical abilities and any health conditions before engaging in rigorous activities.

How can I ensure the safety of my dog while playing these games?

Safety should always be a priority when playing outdoor games with your dog. Ensure that the playing area is free from hazards such as sharp objects, toxic plants, or rough terrain. Additionally, supervise your dog closely during playtime to prevent accidents or injuries.

Also to make sure to have plenty of fresh water available, for both you and your pup.

Can these games be adapted for indoor play during inclement weather?

Yes, several of these games can be modified for indoor play if the weather conditions are unfavorable. For example, you can set up a scaled-down version of the DIY agility course in your living room or engage in indoor treat hunts using creative hiding spots around the house.

What materials are needed for the sustainable sock balloon game?

To create sustainable sock balloons, you’ll just need some old socks. Avoid using balloons made from latex or plastic, as these materials can pose choking hazards to pets and harm the environment.

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4 thoughts on “Five Eco-Friendly Outdoor Games For Dogs That You Will Enjoy Too”

  1. As an early childhood educator and toddler mom, I often do scavenger hunts with my kiddos, but never thought to do them with my dogs. I love that idea!

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