15 Fun Activities For Dogs & Kids That'll Keep Them Both Out Of Your Hair
The only thing harder than working from home with kids is working from home with kids and a dog. It might seem like every time you sit down to cross something off your to-do list, someone (either child, canine, or both) needs a snack, a walk, or for you to open the door so they can sprint around aimlessly in the backyard (if you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space). Fortunately, there are lots of fun activities that dogs and kids can do together with only a little bit of help from you.
After all, the dogs seem to be loving all the time their owners are spending at home. As you may have heard, one happy dachshund in the United Kingdom actually sprained his tail from excessive wagging because he was so happy about the extra time with his humans (per The New York Post).
However, if notice your dog seems a bit confused or a bit off, that's normal too. “Dogs are sensitive to their owners' feelings. A change in an owner’s behavior, such as anger, happiness or anxiety can affect the dog’s behavior,” Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer at the American Kennel Club, tells Romper. Your dog will likely love the extra attention from your little one, though of course "the development of trust in both a dog and in a child individually must be established firmly before ever leaving them unattended for any period of time,” Klein says. If your dog and your children already have a good rapport, read on for 15 fun (and hopefully time-consuming) activities they can do together.
1. A "Spa" Day
Everyone is washing their hands constantly, but other aspects of hygiene may be a little sub-par these days (thank you dry shampoo). If your dog is pretty mellow, you could have your kiddo give them a good brushing, or they can treat their furry friend to a dental hygiene bone as a reward for brushing their own teeth. Hey, we're all in this together, even if it's oral hygiene.
2. "Agility" Lessons
Pups and kiddos both typically need a lot of exercise, so you might as well have them get their wiggles out at the same time. You could set up an obstacle course for your child (the dog probably will just chase your little one). Or you could attempt to have your kid teach the dog some new tricks like the ones featured in this video from the AKC.
3. Make A Map Of Your Dog's Favorite Places
Everyone is missing their favorite places right now, even doggos, presumably. You could have your kid draw a big map of the neighborhood (it can be an abstract map) with stickers to indicate the places your pup loves, like the park or a particular tree. A flattened cardboard box makes a great canvas for map-making.
4. Bake Some Dog Treats (Or Pupsicles)
Baking can be a great stress-reliever but there's only so much sugar each person can handle. Instead of making banana bread or cookies, you and your kiddo could whip up some homemade treats (per Puppy Leaks) for your doggo. Most are pretty simple and don't require a ton of obscure ingredients. As the days get warmer, you could also make pupsicles (thanks to a recipe from Modern Dog) and popsicles, and have your children and your pups enjoy the sticky treats outside.
5. Read Your Dog A Story
As you've probably noticed, sometimes kids just need an audience for whatever they're doing, and you know who's always up for listening to a convoluted story or watching an interpretive dance? That's right, dogs. You could encourage your kiddo to "read" a book about dogs to your dog, (the AKC has tons of recommendations for dog-themed books) or make up a play to perform to their furry pal and some adoring stuffed animals.
6. Have A "Camping" Trip
If you have outdoor space and a tent (or even a few old blankets or tablecloths) you can have a makeshift camping trip. Pack up some snacks for your pup and your kiddo, and let them eat outside, explore the yard, and hopefully burn off some energy.
7. Make A Puzzle For Your Pup To Solve
You can make a fun puzzle for your dog with materials you probably already have lying around. One popular "boredom buster" for dogs (per Pinterest) is to have your kiddo put a few treats into a muffin tin, then cover each round spot with a ball. You could also help your child cut a hole in a tennis ball, then fill it with treats. Your kiddo will stay busy making the puzzles, and your pup will stay occupied trying to pull the treats out.
8. Make A Dog Toy
If your pup is anything like mine, then new toys probably get destroyed pretty quickly. If you're running low, it can be fun for your kiddo to get creative and make a toy. You can put a tennis ball into an old wool sock, or make a tug toy out of old t-shirts which your dog will love (there are helpful YouTube videos on how exactly to make these tug toys). Plus, it's a good way to recycle all those old shirts you have around.
9. Play Hide-And-Seek
Okay, so your little one will probably do most of the hiding while your dog seeks, but kids love hide-and-seek, and it will get you at least some truly quiet time. Your kiddo can hide somewhere (silently and totally still, yay!) and then your dog can use their sense of smell to find them, which works especially well if there are treats involved.
10. Play In The Sprinkler
As the days get warmer, you can set up your sprinkler in the yard and let your kid and your dog take turns jumping through. It's a reliable way to cool off without getting soaked, and bonus points if your dog gets a little cleaner in the process.
11. Make A Movie
If you have an old iPhone laying around, your kid can become a budding cinematographer. Task your little one with making a "documentary" about your dog's life, which is sure to keep them busy for hours. They can even do short funny interviews with everyone in the house, and narrate the dogs' daily "activities."
12. Clean The Dogs' Bowls & Toys
If your kid is taking cleaning very seriously these days (good for them!) you can extend the washing to the dog's toys and bowls. You can fill a bucket with soapy water and have your little one dunk all the dog toys and bowls (even their leash) into the sudsy water. It's fun to play with bubbles, plus everything will come out super clean (and it's a job you can cross of your own to-do list).
13. Get Crafty
Chances are you have cardboard paper towel or toilet paper rolls and some old cereal boxes laying around, which is most of what you need to make amazingly cute toilet paper roll dogs (per Easy Peasy and Fun). If you don't have time to get your kiddo set up with a project, you could always hand over some markers and crayons and have them draw a picture of the dog, or give them a brown paper bag, which works well for making a sweet dog puppet (per The Spruce Crafts). They can also make a collage of a dog using geometric shapes you can cut in advance (you can see a tutorial on YouTube).
14. Throw A Pup Pawty Just Because
What better way to shake up the monotony of quarantine than to throw a puppy party? Your kiddo can have fun making decorations and setting the table (maybe the coffee table so your pup can join). You can even invite other doggies to join for a truly chaotic pup Zoom session.
15. Play Soccer
If your dog isn't much of a fetch player, you could try soccer instead. Your kiddo can work on their dribbling skills, the pup will love chasing the ball, and everyone gets a ton of exercise. If you're really dedicated, you can even teach your dog how to score a goal with their snout (per Clicker Training).
Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer at the American Kennel Club