Do your kids spend enough time outside? With school schedules, extracurricular activities, and plenty of entertainment indoors, one study from the University of Michigan says that children today spend about half as much time outside as previous generations. Like your kids, your pets also need time in the great outdoors to be happy and healthy. If your backyard could get some better use, check out this guide to encourage your kids to play outside with your pets.
If there’s one thing that pets and kids have in common, it’s a love for toys. Purchase a variety of outdoor toys that encourage your kids and your pets to play together outside. Some simple and affordable choices are ropes for tug-of-war or balls and frisbees for fetch. To make fetch even more fun, get a ChuckIt! or similar ball thrower so Rover can “go long.” Your kids will love throwing the ball super-little-human distances!
Games & Activities
The fun doesn’t stop at toys. For long-lasting entertainment outside, encourage your kids to play games with your pets that appeal to both their interests. Tag, hide and seek, and wrestling all satisfy kids’ and pets’ love for running, chasing, and roughhousing. During warm weather, fill up a shallow pool or crank on the sprinkler for hours of water play. Give your kids a special treat to hide for a pet treasure hunt, have them blow bubbles for your pets to catch, or keep it simple with a walk around the neighborhood.
Another great way to get your kids outside with your pets is to involve them with your furry friends’ training. Stock them up with plenty of treats and help them research tricks they can teach to your dog or cat while they spend time in the backyard. For something a little more challenging, encourage them to try giving your pets some agility training by building an obstacle course or a maze.
Make Your Backyard Inviting
You have the yard, but is it an inviting space where your kids and pets enjoy spending their time? Make sure your backyard is attractive to animals and small humans by creating areas that make it more fun or comfortable. Consider adding a sandbox where they can dig up kids’ and pet toys. Playhouses are great places where kids can play and pets can relax. At the very least, provide a shaded area where everyone can get out of the sun and cool off.
It’s hard to enjoy playing outside when the grass is overgrown, full of weeds, or littered with Fido’s “presents.” Keep your landscaping maintained and free of plants with thorns or stickers. Stock up on tools for cleaning up after pets, such as “pooper scoopers” and disposable bags. For the ultimate hands-off approach, consider replacing your sod with fake grass for pets .Artificial turf is environmentally friendly, durable, easy to maintain, and beautiful—ensuring your lawn is always ready for playtime.
Don’t Forget Safety
No matter which strategies you use to encourage your kids and pets to play together outside, their safety should always be a top priority.
- Determine whether your pet is safe around kids and provide appropriate supervision for younger children.
- Restrict access to anything that could be dangerous to animals or kids.
- Install adequate fencing to ensure that no one wanders off.
- Make sure your pets have access to water outside and keep water bottles on hand for the kids.
Help Your Kids and Your Pets to Love the Outdoors
As creatures that both have a bit of a wild streak, kids and pets need time outdoors—for fresh air, for exercise, or simply to enjoy nature. Do everything you can to ensure they get the time outside they need, using this guide to make outdoor play safe and fun. With a bit of help from you, your kids and their furry friends will grow to love spending time together outside.