1 Pack a Picnic Dinner and head to the dog park after work. Where this plan often fails to get off the ground is in over-thinking the proceedings. The picnic need not be fancy; throw together a cold dinner of cheeses and charcuteries, perhaps some leftover tabouleh, potato salad, or cold roast chicken from the night before, and you’re ready to go. The idea is to get to the park fast and enjoy the remaining light, not to mention to free oneself from the kitchen. Once at the park, set yourself up in a quiet corner, unfurl a blanket, and let loose the hounds. Bringing a Chuck-It for the dogs and a disguised bottle of chilly rosé for yourselves (how civilized) just might
2 Fill a wading pool with water for your dog to play in/lounge in/drink from. A quick online search yielded a three-foot-deep wading pool for $7.99 at Toys R Us. Instant summer fun for under $10.
3 Make pupsicles! We have all sorts of delicious, fast, healthy frozen summer treats you can whip up for your dog in a jiff. All you need is five minutes, a few ingredients, and a freezer. Find the recipes here:
4 Freese treats and toys into your dog's water dish or an empty five-quart ice cream pail. Add a rubber squeaky toy or two, drop in a food-stuffed Kong, sprinkle in a few non-sogging treats like buffalo jerky bites, cover with water, and freeze. Once solid, briefly run under warm water to remove from dish, and give to your dog—outdoors, of course.
5 Hire a dog walker for a once-a-month excursion. Rates vary; in New York, $18 will get your dog a half-hour group walk with Manhattan’s Pet Club NYC. In Vancouver, British Columbia, $30 will get your dog a two-hour mountain hike group excursion with Release the Hounds. Group outings like these provide your dog with exercise and a new socialization opportunity, and you with a day’s reprieve from feeling that perhaps your dog didn’t get as much stimulation and exercise as he wanted. Money well spent, if you ask us.
6 Go for a cruise with your dog. If you have a high-energy canine pal, biking is the perfect way to let him run off some steam. Springer USA (springerusa.com) builds a bike attachment that makes cycling with your dog safe and enjoyable for you both. If your dog is smaller, older, or just not up for expending that much energy, she can still come along for the ride. Solvit Tagalong pet bicycle basket (solvitproducts.com) carries dogs up to 13 pounds, while their HoundAbout dog bicycle trailers accommodate dogs up to 110 pounds. To the beach—under your own steam!
7 Fulfill your/your dog’s latent desire to be an artist. Fit him with a clip-on collar camera like the Eyenimal videocam ($129, eyenimal.com) or Uncle Milton Pet’s Eye View camera ($40, amazon.com) and hit the streets.
8 Keep your dog engaged and mentally sharp—play a brain boosting game together. Interactive brain games are a fun way to socialize and bond with your dog, while encouraging healthy intellectual exercise at the same time. For fun games like the shell game and teaching your dog his ABC’s (bonus: activities like these fight Canine Cognitive Dysfunction), as well as boredom-busting toys that require problem solving, check out these links:
9 Get some exercise and support local small businesses. Clip on your dog’s leash, take a stroll to your neighbourhood dog store, and let your dog pick out a new toy or little treat.
10 Treasure hunt! Put your dog’s talented nose to work. Make your dog wait while you hide little treats throughout your living room or back yard, then let her loose to find them. We do this a couple of times a week for the MD office dogs, making them wait in the lunchroom while we secret treats throughout the office, then give them the cue to start the search. It never gets old for them and it’s pretty darn fun for us to watch, too.