Summertime Dog Activities On A Budget

Summer is often summarized by many as fun, hot, boring, and long. It really is here and gone in a blink of an eye. So, let’s focus on the positive part of summer with your dog. I know I love spending more time with my dog, Henry outside as the temperatures permit. Today, let’s dig in and look at some super summertime dog activities on a budget. Many of these you can do anywhere, which is great for those hot days when you’re forced to stay it inside next to the AC. 

a cute dog enjoys cooling off with a fun one of many fun summertime dog activities
disclaimer note

Budget tip:

You don’t have to spend much money to keep your dog cool and safe in the summer. You can even make a DIY dog cooling vest. Although they don’t stay wet as long, they do work. The other part of summer is to have fun with your dog, which also doesn’t take much money.

Two of Henry’s favorite activities are hiking and massage. I like hiking with him and when I give him a dog massage I get to make sure he’s free of lumps and bumps. Both of his highly prized activities are free or nearly free (when you count gas). But they’re both great for our mental health and well-being. That’s a huge win-win!

How do I keep my dog cool while we have fun in the summer?

This is a critical question. Dogs can overheat very easily and go from heat exhaustion to heatstroke in nearly a second. Plus, they generally don’t wear shoes and can burn their paws quickly on hot cement or asphalt. Some dogs will wear dog booties. Others will kick them off quicker than you can believe.

The main issue to keep in mind is that the ground can be hot. I always, put my hand on the patio or cement before I let Henry touch it. If I can leave my hand there comfortably for 10 seconds then it’ll be fine for him. 

As for being hot, I know Henry can be hot even inside with the AC on and the humans comfortable. I like to refer to him as my little “heat generator”. That’s great for me in the winter or colder months. But it’s miserable for him during the heat of summer. 

My solution has been a cooling vest. Often Henry will even sleep with his cooling vest on during the summer. Of course, I’m generally cold. But he’s comfortable. And that’s what really counts.

To learn more about cooling vests for dogs, visit this article where I dive into the science of how they work and how best to use them. 

Other simple ways to keep your dog cool in the summer heat include:

  • Cooling mats
  • Wet towels (soaked in cool water)
  • Frozen treats
  • Ice cube in water
  • Frozen toys
  • Splash mats 
  • Kiddie pool or swimming
  • Fresh cold water is readily available (I have 3 water stations for Henry in the summer)

NOTE: Always make sure you supervise your dog around water. 

There are other great ways to keep your dog cool in summer, even outside. In this article, I dive into ways I bet you haven’t thought about and ways you will love them as well. 

What kind of fun activity can I do with my dog in the summer for cheap?

I know I’m always looking for cost-effective ways to keep Henry entertained. He always seems to like what I come up with for him. Here are seven great summer activity ideas to do even in hot weather. 

1. Sports

Exercising with your dog is always a fun outdoor activity idea as long as you avoid the hot temperatures of the day. Henry likes helping me stretch and do yoga. He also enjoys going for a bike ride. But you may also want to consider other summer fun and exercise  activities such as:

  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Tennis
  • Soccer

Want more exercises you can do with your dog during the summer? In this article, I outline 10 exercises you and your dog will love. 

Cost: FREE – $

2. Hiking

One of my favorite anytime, including summer activities to do with Henry, and probably one of his as well, is to go for a hike. He loves the smells, fresh air, and adventure. I’ve learned how to hike so I don’t hurt my back, which is always a bonus. Are you thinking a small dog can’t hike?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure either when I first adopted Henry. But he hikes like a big dog. It’s rather shocking! All you really have to do is give a dog a chance to show you what they can do with you and doors are opened. 

Note: Remember the dog treats, fresh water, and water bowl. And don’t forget the poop bags.

Do you have a bad back like me and think hiking will make it worse? In this article, I share great tips for minimizing or eliminating pain from hiking. It definitely worked for me! 

Cost: FREE (depending on where you hike – minus gas)

3. Dates

Have you ever gone on a date with your dog and your partner or significant other? Your dog will love it and you get to enjoy the date with your dog by your side. Plus, your dog will tell you if your date is a winner or a dud. All you have to do is pay attention to how your dog interacts with your date.

Did you know your dog was a dud or winner detector? Even if you’ve been with your partner for a while your dog can spice up your dates. They don’t even have to be pricey dates to be fun and memorable.

Personally, I think one of the best ideas is to go on star gazing. It’s definitely a fun summer activity. The shade is already built in at night and the temperatures are cooler. You can even do it in your own backyard, local park, dog park, or garden.

Simply bring a few snacks and beverages (don’t forget the dog treats and plenty of fresh water for your furry friend). I know I love looking at the stars. And Henry loves watching people and critters. It makes for a great date option. 

Want more cheap date ideas for you, your dog, and your partner? In this article, I outline 25 great options with a budget estimate. 

Cost: FREE – $$

4. Playtime

Some days it will just be too hot to go anywhere. What do you do then? Well, you can have fun at home with your dog. Here are a few ideas to play with your dog inside:

  • Set up an obstacle course
  • Play a sniffing game
  • Tug of war can be fun for some dogs
  • Play a classic game of fetch with a favorite toy
  • Ball pits can make some dogs super happy
  • Hiding favorite toys with cookies is a good game
  • Learn a new trick (Henry loves training and learning)

Do you know you can teach your dog basic commands and new tricks on your time schedule? In this article, I walk you through how to do it successfully.  

But if your dog doesn’t like toys what do you do? Henry doesn’t understand dog toys. But he has taught me a few of his games, such as throwing food from his bowl of food one piece at a time and letting him find. He LOVES that game! Also, he LOVES being chased. In fact, he’s started a new game of being still until I come up behind him and say “GO GO GO!” Then he wags his tail, jumps, and bounces to the next spot. That game doesn’t have a name at the moment.

Not sure how to learn your dog’s games? In this article, I share the tricks of playing with a dog who doesn’t like dog toys. 

Cost: FREE 

Henry in the pool floating by Terri R

5. Massage

This is another great activity to do with your dog when you’re stuck inside on a hot day. While you may think it’s a useless or dumb dog activity, it’s not at all. In fact, it might be Henry’s favorite activity we do together. Yep, even more so than hiking. He thoroughly enjoys a good dog massage.

It also gives me a chance to make sure he is in good shape and free of any lumps, bumps, or anything suspicious. The funny part is he will generally fall asleep during his massage. Then he wakes up when I stop and looks at me as if to say “More, please.” In Henry’s dog’s mind massage is a great time for him to nap.

No idea how to give your dog a massage? In this article, I guide you through the process step-by-step. 

Cost: FREE

6. Distressing

This is another great indoor activity with your dog. I know we’re all overly stressed out these days. Seems to go with the territory of being human. So, let’s try to turn our stress upside down. If we are forced inside with our dog and simply feel overwhelmed with stress, what can we do?

Well, do you know you can actually reduce your stress level with your dog? Yep, your dog can help increase your level of “Happy Hormones” or oxytocin. Amazing, huh? It’s actually pretty simple. All dogs can do it. I noticed it like a neon sign with Henry when we worked in an office.

People would come into the building looking for him simply to destress. They’d enter the building and yell “I NEED A HENRY FIX!” and then about 15 minutes later they’d leave with a smile on their face. Dogs are miracle workers in the way they can calm us even as stress seems out of control. 

Not sure how to destress with your dog this summer? In this article, I show you how to do it very simply.

Cost: FREE

7. Solve the problem

I know summer maybe be a time that stuff gets stuck in your brain. Heck, it does for me from time to time. Something will nag at me “How can I solve it?” It’s frustrating, to say the least. Did you know that there’s a higher probability of solving a problem when you do self-talk?

However, when you “dog self-talk” you may just amp up that success rate even more. You think I’m nuts, right? Well, consider the fact that your dog doesn’t judge you, but gives you a sounding board. Additionally, when you’ve worked out your issue you reduce your stress level, increase your confidence, and boost your brain power. Did I just hear “WOW!” I’d say those are all great reasons to self-talk with your dog. Plus, you get to bond with your dog in the process. Where’s the downside? I know Henry is often my sounding board. He’s the short and silent sounding board, but that’s perfect for dog self-talk.

Curious about dog self-talk? In this article, I go into detail about self-talk, dog self-talk, and how to do it.

Cost: FREE

Related articles:

Summary of summertime dog activities on a budget

Summer is always here and gone in a blink. When it arrives the heat seems to go on like a switch was flipped. Then our (or at least my) attention is turned to how to keep our dogs cool, safe, and entertained during the heat. And if we can do it within budget that’s always great. I know Henry has looked at me occasionally like a bored child.

But summer dog activities aren’t difficult or even costly. What I’ve learned with Henry is keeping him cool is priority one. Then everything else falls into place. I love that he is easy to entertain on hot days and often keeps me entertained with his games. Maybe your dog does the same sort of thing.

Of course, there are great outdoor activities as well as summer activities you can do anywhere, including indoors. Really there doesn’t need to be a huge investment. I purchase Henry a new cooling vest each year. They have worked great for keeping him cool! This is one very similar to the one he’s wearing now. It stays wet for hours!

When he has his cooling vest on we can venture out (not on cement or asphalt) when it’s still a bit warm, but he’s perfectly cool. Actually, I get warm before he wants to head inside. Which is great because we can still walk and do hiking in the high country. 

a cute husky enjoys one of many fun summertime dog activities

What summertime dog activities do you like to do with your furry friend? Did I mention any new ones you want to try?


Categories Vet Savings

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

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