9 Ways To Burn Your Dog’s Energy In The Backyard

Dog backyard playing with bal

With the current quarantine for the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic all over the world, it’s not an option for you to walk your dog in a park, take your dog out for a daily run, bike ride. So we thought of 9 ways to burn your dog’s energy in the backyard.

I can feel how your dog is reacting. We all know that regular exercise and mental stimulation are as crucial as food and water for your dog.

I have found some awesome tricks to burn my dog’s energy in the backyard without the need for a long daily walk. So reading this post will give you tons of ideas on how to make your dog exhausted without walking or running or meeting other dogs.

We Covered 9 Awesome Ways That You Can Use To Have A Pleasing, Playful Day In The Backyard

  1. Frisbee or Fetch
  2. Tug-of-War or any of its variations
  3. Round-Robin recalls
  4. Flirt Pole
  5. Simple Hose
  6. Chase a remote-controlled car (My own invented game)
  7. Digging
  8. Hide and Seek
  9. Agility Exercises

In this article, we also cover the games that you need to ignore to ensure a well-behaved puppy. I have also covered some of my secret-made games that my dog enjoys.

Always remember that a happy puppy is a result of a happy lifestyle.

What Type Of Outdoor Activities That Can Be Done In The Backyard?

When we think of the activities in the backyard, we mainly think of 3 aspects:

Interactive Games

Dog biting rope of a person holding it
Dog biting rope of a person holding it

Mental/Tracking Games

Adorable dog in action
Adorable dog in action

Agility exercises

Dog with teal collar running outside
Dog with teal collar running

You can choose the type of activity that you want, based on your dog’s preference and breed. For example, some large dogs might not be suitable for agility exercises. You can also alternate between different activities for your dog.

Before beginning, make sure that the backyard is well cleaned. A dirty terrace will possibly affect your dog’s health in the wrong way.

I) Interactive games:

1- Frisbee/Fetch:

Playing Frisbee or fetch is one of the physical activities loved by dogs, and it provides the required energy release.

You can take along your dog’s favorite toy and throw it out for him to fetch. This game is fantastic to increase the bond between you and your dog. It will be an ideal game if you have a dog from the Retrievers family.

To train your dog on how to fetch. I recommend watching this excellent episode by Zak George that teaches how this game works in-depth.

However, basic fetch will be boring after some time, that’s why I am going to give you a couple of tips that you can use when your dog mastered the basic fetch.

I learned those tips from the book of the fantastic trainer Victoria Schade “Bonding with Your Dog: A Trainer’s Secrets for Building a Better Relationship”

  • Rapid Fire Fetch:

    Do you have a fast Golden Retriever? Time to put him under test.

    Grab a couple of balls and start throwing one at a time. When your dog is near you, throw the second before he reaches you and so on.

    This way, you will teach your dog to think faster, and it will be funnier for you and your dog.
  • Control Yourself Fetch:

    Combining training and exercising is one of the smartest ideas. By doing so, you will convince your dog that training is as fun as exercising and not dull at all.

    Control Yourself Fetch is the variation of fetch which follows this approach. You ask your dog for a stay while you are throwing the ball, then tell him to get it afterward.

    It may hard on your dog the first couple of times, so be patient and start with low momentum and gradually increase it over time.

A better game than regular fetch is Frisbee fetch. While the concepts are the same, it’s better to play Frisbee with your dog if he is a middle-sized dog such as Border Collie.

That’s because you can combine many tricks while playing Frisbee with your dog. Zak George as well gives fantastic video on how to train your medium dog to play Frisbee.

Frisbee catching is an excellent game to burn a lot of energy while having a time loaded with fun and playing.


Dog playing with kong
Dog playing with kong

A lot of studies lately showed the lousy impact of Tennis Balls on the teeth of dogs and their stomach.

That’s why you shouldn’t leave the tennis ball with your dog after playing fetch. Take it away and put it in a safe area where your dog can’t take it back and start chewing it.

Also, consider buying Kong’s ball that is safe on the dog’s teeth and durable as well. Check out the price here at Chewy.com

Another essential aspect to take into consideration is the automatic ball launching machine. While it offers some peace of mind for you, it won’t provide the same for your dog.

Dogs love human interactions, and they want to play with you, not only run around with a ball and put into a machine.

But, while your dog is eager to fetch whatever you throw for him, this is not the only option.

2- Tug-of-war and its variations:

Dog playing Tug-of-war with a kid
Dog playing Tug-of-war with a kid

Tug-of-war is another physical game that teaches the dog impulsive control and provides you with bonding time with him while burning energy.

It’s a perfect game for learning dogs if your dog prefers it to fetch.

I am sure any dog owner knows what a tug is. However, I am here to give you my workarounds and tricks around the game that makes it much funnier.

Some of my workarounds are:

  • Tug-Fetch Mix:

    This great mix helped my Spaniel to calm down a little bit. I just throw a tug rope as a tennis ball, and when she comes back with it, we will have a tug game.
  • Jump tug:

    Fix the rope in an inclined plane, then let your dog run and try to jump and get it. Then have a quick tug game with him.
  • All-round game:

    This game won’t be suitable if your dog isn’t familiar with self-control.

    What I do is that I ask my dog to sit, throw a tennis ball then ask him to get it. When he comes, I through the Frisbee. Then when he comes, I throw the rope. Last visit back, will be the tug game.


Adding some heat while playing tug of war games is essential. You have to start moving your dog right and left quickly to tire him up.

However, take care, moving your dog up and down can most likely damage his backbone if he was younger than 6 months old.

You can follow the safety guidelines mentioned here, they will be very helpful for your dog.

3- Round-Robin recalls:

Round-Robin is a terrific energy-burning game.

You and family members or one or more of your friends would stand at opposite corners of your yard, and each one will call the dog in turns so that the dog would keep running back and forth to each one calling his name.

This game would tire the dog out completely. You can level up the game by playing a tug session every time the dog reaches a family member. This way, you all will engage in playing with your dog.

Even better, you can start throwing a tennis ball to each other while the dog is in the middle trying to catch it.

4- Flirt Pole:

Dog in action with a flirt pole
Dog in action with a flirt pole

Please ignore the naming part.

I have heard several trainers saying that the flirt pole is considered a magic solution to the dog’s exercising problem.

It’s actually true. That’s because this game includes all the conditions for the ideal game. It involves:

  • Human interaction.
  • Chasing instinct motivation.
  • Some agility derivatives when you let your dog jump to catch it.
  • Tug of war game in the end that will enhance the dog’s muscles.

A proof that this game is one of the best games for any dog is that all the institutes that train dogs for guarding purposes use this game as motivation.

And by the way, you can build it yourself without the need to buy an already made one. Here is an awesome video of how to build a flirt pole for your dog:

Let me warn you though, if you have a Pitbull or any muscular dog, then you need to buy a factory-made flirt pole that is designed for muscular dogs.

5- Simple Hose:

I always hate people on Facebook who make posts that show that playing with your dog requires a large box of toys.

Or even worse, when you find out that they only offer their dog playing machines such as Ball launching machine or the sticky rope for tug of war.

Playing with your dog is simpler than you think. Your dog will appreciate any activity where you both participate in.

Playing with a hose is my dog’s favorite game. I just launch water, and she starts chasing it. We spend some quality time without any “special” instruments.

6- My own made games:

These games are hilarious, please don’t laugh at me.

I always like to use our remote-controlled car and make my dog chase it. I level it up by tying a piece of bacon on the car’s back, and here we go.

Sometimes, I use drones and hang a tennis ball from it. I make sure that the drone has enough height that the dog can never reach it. At the same time, my dog goes crazy about it and starts chasing and jumping to get it.

You are free to use your imagination. Dog’s games don’t have rules. You just need to play.

Avoid tag games:

I play with my dog tag all the time. But I always discourage others from doing so.

Tag game is a double-edged sword, it can be very fun, and it can lead to frightening aggression. If your dog doesn’t listen to your words naturally, then stay away from this game.

Whenever I play with my dog, she never tried to bite me. She just jumps on me for quick cuddles while wrestling. The moment I say stop, she has to step back.

Sometimes my dog growls and barks. This is fine with me; however, if she starts to show her teeth, I terminate this game for 1-2 weeks.

Pet Hill’s offers this amazing article that explains when your dog starts to show aggression instead of normal playing behavior.

II) Mental/Tracking Games

It’s shocking for most people to know that mental games tire dogs more than physical games.

1-hour of mental games can make your dog asleep for the rest of the day because of tiredness. Therefore, adding them to your list is very valuable.

7- Digging:

Dog in the sand
Dog in the sand

it’s a natural instinct for dogs, they dig for entertainment or to find cool dirt to relax or to bury their favorite bone.

However, this is not a desirable activity if it’s done in your favorite flower garden.

Consider providing his own digging place, design a special place in your yard, or make a sandbox for him from a child’s plastic pool filled with sand.

You can encourage your dog to use this designed spot by hiding his treats or toys underneath the sand for him to enjoy digging and discovering. This is an excellent method for burning energy while providing a safe environment for your dog.

8- Hide and Seek:

I know that you read that a lot, and I bet that you know all the advantages of the hide and seek game, so I won’t cover them.

To get your dog hooked into Hide and Seek, you have to offer him the required challenge that he deserves.

To teach him how to play Hide and Seek, begin by telling your dog to stay or have someone hold his collar while you find an easy hiding place.

When you’re there, call out the dog’s name and wait for him to find where you are. Once he does, encourage him with treats and praise.

By the time he will get used to the game, so, you can make your hiding places more difficult or invite other friends to join the game and have him find everyone.

A good variation is hiding other things instead of yourself, such as treats or his favorite toys. Don’t help him, let him use his nose to reach the hiding place by himself. You will be amazed by how your dog can use his nose.

The best variation of all the time is mixing mental and physical games. I always hide toys in tough places, then ask my dog to get them for me. Once she does, it will be time for a quick round of tug-of-war.

This mix guarantees the best results in less than 30 mins.

Avoid Fence-running:

Dog behind a fence
Dog behind a fence

Fence Running is used widely as an interactive and mental game that dogs love and adore.

However, studies showed that Fence Running should be avoided by all means because it is a proven cause of aggression.

You can read more about this issue in-depth following this article on holiday4dogs.co.uk which will explain it is better to avoid fence running exercise.

9- Agility Exercises

No wonder agility exercises are the key to every well-trained dog. No matter the energy levels of your dog, he will love agility exercises.

If you have a large dog, then he probably won’t be as fanatic about those exercises as a medium-sized dog. However, he will surely adore those awesome exercises.

When I say Agility, I want you to step out of the traditional picture of some purchased obstacles that are very costly. I want you to get into the idea of creating a home-made agility course for your dog.

Believe it or not, DIY agility courses are great, and they offer the fun part alongside the training. You can also have agility courses under $50, which is another awesome thing.

Here is a video that shows a person who created the agility course from household products:

What’s better than that? Just use your imagination.

Safety Measures:

One important aspect that you need to take into consideration is the safety measures of backyard playing.

While attempting to entertain your dog and provide him with the needed exercise, make sure that he is kept safe.

Some dog breeds are intolerant to heat and cold weather. Leaving them in the yard, without supervision, can lead to heatstroke or hypothermia. Even mild weather may be too warm for the dog if he doesn’t have adequate shelter.

Additionally, some dogs are their own worst enemy. They can chew foreign objects, squeeze their way out through the fence, and backyards with pools may provide the risk of the dog’s drowning.

So, the best and safest way to use the backyard for your dog is to keep him under your or another trusted person’s supervision.

On the other hand, make sure to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s exercise requirements. Sometimes your dog might be suffering from a serious problem that doesn’t go well with lots of exercises.

Importance Of Playing Outside

So why did we write this, and why should we do all that?

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for a happy and healthy dog, not to mention the sunshine, the joy of fresh air, and the rolling around in the grass.

Yards offer a favorable environment for daily training/ exercise as well as burning out the dog’s excessive energy.

Also, the sounds, smells, and sights of the world outside the house help much with the needed stimulation, keep the dog’s mind alert and active. Over and above, it prevents destructive behaviors around the house.

Both you and your dog can have an excellent time in the backyard with several games and even dog playdates, which is essential for the dog’s continued socialization.

Disadvantages of not having outdoor activities:

Dog bored on the carpet
Dog bored on the carpet

On the other hand, lacking enough outdoor exercise may cause boredom and laziness for dogs just as in humans. The missed variety in their lives would cause irritability, depression, and behavior problems.

Dogs are smart creatures; they express their boredom and needs through their behavior.

You may notice that your dog is showing strange behavior like inappropriate chewing or continuous barking.

Some dogs may start whining, howling, loss of appetite, scattering garbage, chewing shoes, and ripping up couches. These symptoms are messages from your dog, telling you that he needs to change the routine of his life.

You can solve these behavior problems by releasing excessive energy through outdoor activities, interactive games, and socialization.


Being creative and finding a constructive release for your dog’s excessive energy is crucial.

Dogs are like humans; they need motivated exercise, the physical and mental activities will help to drain his energy and keep him occupied.

It also maintains a fun bond between both of you and develops the dog’s obedience behavior. The backyard exercise routine will help much during the tough times we are facing now.

Don’t forget to write a comment on how you played with your dog in the backyard!

Erwin Borgers

Hi, I’m Erwin. I grew up with two cats, but I always wanted to have a dog. Since my wife and I lived together, we have Mayla. She is a very sweet King Charles Spaniel. Together we spend countless of hours in the forest near our home. We love to walk together and now I want to share what I learned about walking dogs and what I learned about dog gear with you.

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