We have many things on our plate: family, work, incessant play dates and extra curricular activities (if you have kids, that is). Keeping busy, while monotonous in its own right, keeps us from getting bored. But have you ever thought while you are hurrying off to work, “Does my dog get bored while I’m at work?” Chances are he does.
Signs of Boredom
Like you, without the right amount of activity, your dog will be bored out of his mind. You can only imagine what this means when you leave the house.
Unlike a child which will eventually be able to feed itself and find ways to entertain themselves without getting into mischief (hopefully), dogs aren’t exactly in a position to walk to the park by themselves, get a job or buy their own food.
It’s your job to make sure that Fido is physically, mentally and emotionally stimulated. In other words, you ultimately give meaning to his life by your interactions and the activities you bring to his life. Left to his own devices, he’ll get into trouble without guided activity. If you notice that your dog is bored, find out why so you can solve it.
Without ways to expend pent up energy, our furry friends get into things in places they don’t belong. If you already have a high-energy dog, this could be disastrous. Negative behaviors such as excessive chewing, too much barking or hunting for food in the garbage are typical signs that your dog is suffering from boredom.
Should you come home one day to find your garden plants ripped out of the ground and your favorite pair of shoes chewed beyond recognition, try some of the following fun ideas:
- Plenty of exercise – physical stimulation is a huge part of why your dog resorts to destructive chewing, pawing at furniture and other less-than-ideal actions. If you can have him run around in the yard, that’s great. Failing that, a game of fetch with a tennis ball.
- A food-stuffed toy or a Kong full of cream cheese or peanut butter may be enough to keep your doggie busy for a few minutes, if not a few hours.
- Treats stuffed in a water bottle with the cap off will give your dog an interesting job of tossing around the bottle to get the food out. The trick is making them just big enough that they don’t all come pouring out at one time, but small enough that they don’t get stuck leading to…. boredom.
- A snuffle mat is a fun and distracting way to feed your dog. Many of them look something like a really shaggy bathmat from the 1970s and can keep your dog busy for hours, especially if you use it for regular meals (i.e. when he’s hungry!)
- As natural foragers, a stressed dog may respond well to scent detection exercises. While I’m no expert in it, I’d best liken it to a game of fetch with acknowledging his ability to detect the smell in question and then rewarding him with praise in whatever form you’ve determined best suits your dog.
- Practicing dog tricks takes patience, but can serve as a kind of brain gym for your dog. Just like when you would come home after school as a kid and feel like taking a nap, your dog may also find this exhausting and wish to curl up after a few minutes of working hard to please master.
- An interactive game that involves tugging — a cloth, rope, dog toy etc. help your dog get the crazies out. Pet stores carry an array of simple games that can help satisfy the craving for somewhat aggressive behavior.
- You may not want your kids glued to a screen, but Dog TV has viewing designed to preoccupy your dog with visuals to keep him entertained and away from the top of the kitchen counter.
- Music for dogs can soothe your dog’s psyche and keep him calm while you’re out. We like this product proven to work.
- Lonely dogs may need more social interaction. Your local Doggy Daycare could meet that need especially if you plan to be out for an extended period of time. Some will even focus on teaching your pooch good habits, which can only help in the long run.
- Lastly, keep in mind that sometimes a medical issue may lead to destructive behaviors. You also probably leave destruction behind when you’re not feeling great, so book an appointment with your vet, if none of the above suggestions work.
Read also: How to Tame Your Jumper Dog
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