School-age children who get home before their parents can combine responsibility with fun by playing these games with their four-legged sibling. Kids playing with dogs after school benefits both dogs and kids alike, and playtime doesn't require new toys or lots of money. Just a few, everyday items will provide hours upon hours of entertainment.
This indoor game requires some dry dog food, tennis balls, and an old muffin tin. Place a few pieces of dog food in a few muffin tin spots and then cover ALL the spots with tennis balls. Dogs will have fun sniffing out and removing the balls to find the snack. Your kids will enjoy seeing if they can trick their pal. This game is great because it can keep your dog and your kids busy on a rainy day. Also, the kids will remember to feed their furry friend before you get home from a long day. Just make sure that this food isn't in excess or addition to your pup's normal food regiment to ensure he is getting the proper nutrition.
Outdoor Obstacle Course
For good weather days, your kids can arrange hula hoops, cones, lawn chairs, plastic buckets, and old pool noodles to create a fun obstacle course youngsters and the dog will both enjoy. Your kids can set up their props so your dog can duck, weave, and jump through each obstacle, similar to an agility course. Of course, a fenced-in yard is the best and safest location for this activity. Having your kids help their little buddy through the course will help them both get some needed exercise as well as strengthen the bond between them.
Although soccer is better played outside, it can be played inside if your dog and kids control the ball well and you have a room that's safe for play. Use a small soccer ball (or a tough ball that is about the size of a small soccer ball) and set up a small pop-up net or a laundry basket on its side to serve as a goal. Kids can practice their foot skills while their pal tries to steal the ball. For young dog "siblings" looking for a challenge, shoot the ball and train your dog to fetch it for you. Just make sure you supervise to help keep both kids and pup safe.
Don't have a goal or a makeshift net? Dogs still love to chase a soccer ball with kids! Be safe though - dogs should never be the goalie because you wouldn't want to step on them, kick them or hit them with the ball.
If your dog is well-trained with the commands sit and stay, this game is one that could keep everyone busy for hours. Kids can use training treats or a favorite toy and tell the dog to sit and stay. Then, within his line of sight, place his object of desire somewhere he can easily get it. Then release your excited pup from the stay position and tell him to go seek.
Hide-and-seek only works if your pup is trained and obeys commands. If he's still learning commands, try the next indoor idea.
Help the kids craft awesome tug-of-war ropes by weaving together strips of fabric from a pair of old ripped jeans. With their new toy, your kids can play tug-of-war with your pup and help him expend some pent up energy. Make sure to teach the kids how to play before letting them play unsupervised. Pulling too aggressively can injure your dog or create unwanted aggressiveness. Never pull the dog up or forward with the toy. Use gentle pulls and let your pup dictate the level of energy in each tug to ensure he and your kiddo are kept safe. This is a great exercise that is sure to tucker your pup out, so if you notice he is wearing down make sure to let him rest to avoid injury.
Kids playing with dogs offers multiple benefits including exercise, teaching responsibility, and forging a strong bond between kids and their furry best friend. By encouraging playtime every day right after school a new, healthy, and fun routine will blossom!
Chrissie Klinger is an educator, writer, and mother of two children, three dogs, and three cats. She enjoys living an active and eco-friendly lifestyle.