Dogs love to run and play outside, and there's nothing more joyous than a dog who's in his element -- romping, wrestling, digging, playing tug of war and going wild. Physical exercise keeps your dog happy and content, and reduces behavioral issues related to boredom and frustration. If you have a backyard, a playtime paradise for both you and your pooch to enjoy is a great way to bond and have fun.
Fence the playground. Your dog's safety should be your first consideration. If the play area is not fenced, there's little to keep your beloved pet from running off. Fortunately, your fencing choices are many, from chain link to redwood to picket fencing or even invisible fencing -- it all depends on the size of your dog and how eager he is to take off. If you have a very large yard, consider fencing off a small portion for your dedicated play yard.
Buy a kiddie wading pool and keep it on hand for various uses throughout the warmer months. In spring, fill it with sand and give your dog an outlet for his digging instinct; in summer, the pool will keep your dog entertained and cool.
Select a ground cover that is appropriate for your dog's age or physical condition; for instance, if your dog is older, you might want to provide interlocking rubber mats to cushion his joints. For younger to middle-age dogs, cement is practical and easy to hose down. If you want an absorbent ground cover for your playground, bark chips are relatively inexpensive. And you can't go wrong with grass.
Purchase or make a dog agility course to provide mental stimulation. There are many manufacturers who create hoop jumps, raised platforms, weave poles and tunnels, but if you don't want to spend a fortune, improvise with what you have. A child's plastic playhouse may pique your dog's curiosity, and a ladder and slide can be adapted for your dog's use. Use PVC to create a weave pole system. Buy or create a collapsed tunnel or fabric chute, or cut the bottom out of a big barrel to create a tunnel your dog can crawl through. Provide varying heights of platforms or an old picnic table for your dog to jump up on.
Stock up on balls, plastic disks or toys your dog really loves.
Add shade trees or canopies if you live in a very hot area. Dogs can get overheated very quickly. Provide lots of cool water. Turn the sprinklers on and let the dog romp in the spray.
Provide a comfortable spot for the humans. An Adirondack chair or a glider swing placed in the shade is the perfect way for you to relax -- while your dog is doing anything but.