Just like humans, dogs are prone to getting bored – imagine being stuck inside most of the day with almost nothing to do. Unfortunately, boredom can lead to destructive behaviors or simply just an unhappy pup.
So, how do you tell your pet is bored and what can you do about it? Read on below to for advice on how to detect boredom and how you can both prevent it before your dog chews up your favourite shoes.
Recognizing the Signs of Boredom
- Chewing furniture or clothes – While having damaged items is no fun, it’s also dangerous – your pet could swallow shoelaces or other materials that could cause an intestinal blockage.
- Digging holes in backyards and gardens – Having to replant flowers and fill in holes probably isn’t your idea of a good time. Additionally, if your dog digs to close to your fence, they may be able to escape.
- Getting into the trash – Eating from the trash can harm your dog the same way that chewing up furniture and clothes can – it can also expose your dog to human foods that are toxic to them.
- Excessive barking – A dog that barks all day long could earn you an excessive noise complaint from your neighbors.
- Jumping on people – While this might be cute as a puppy, it becomes a nuisance when dogs are older. Additionally, your dog could even knock over people by doing this.
- Escaping or attempting to escape the house and yard often – Your dog running around freely outside puts them at risk of being hit by vehicles or being injured by wildlife.
- Stealing food – Mealtime shouldn’t be you constantly guarding your plate in fear that your pooch is going to snatch something off your plate. Again, there’s also the risk that your dog ingests something toxic to dogs like grapes.
- Sleeping all day long – While this sounds good on paper, sleeping all day long means your dog isn’t getting any exercise and is at risk for weight gain.
When our pets have nothing to do, they’ll often attempt to make their own fun or seek out attention, regardless of it’s positive or negative. Even if you don’t have time to play with your dog all day long, there are still things you can do to prevent them from being too bored.
In the following section, you can learn more about what you can do to curb boredom in your pup before their destructive behavior ever starts.
How to Prevent Boredom
1. Regularly exercise and play with your dog
While this sounds fairly obvious, it’s still something that many pet owners are prone to forgetting. Simply skipping a day of walks because the weather outside isn’t great doesn’t cut it – it’s best to find a physical activity you can do indoors with your pet so that they can still burn off some energy. It doesn’t have to be fancy – going up and down the stairs for a while is one way to get some exercise in.
If you work long hours, hiring a dog walker or leaving your dog at a doggy daycare can be great solutions.
2. Try different ways of feeding your dog
Many dogs are food motivated – that’s why using food can be a good way to exercise both your dog’s brain and body so that they don’t get bored. Here are a few ways to use food to your advantage:
- Lick Mats – Lick mats are silicon mats with grooves that you can press dog food and other supplements into so that your dogs eat less quickly.
- Treat Dispensing Toys – You don’t even have to go to the store to get one – simply punch a few treat sized holes into an empty water bottle and fill it with your dog’s favourite treats. That should definitely keep your dog occupied for a while and out of trouble.
- Hide Treats Around the House – This combines mental and physical exercise – simply hide a few treats or pieces of kibble around parts of the house that your dog can access and watch them go to town. Just make sure you remember to clean up any pieces that they don’t find.
3. Socialize Your Dog
Planning regular play dates with other dogs or visits to the dog park could be a great way to curb your dog’s boredom. Meeting new and old friends will keep your pup entertained with the added benefit of reinforcing appropriate behavior around other dogs. Just make sure that your dog and any dogs that they come into contact with have their vaccinations up to date.
4. Teach Your Dog New Tricks
If you’re not able to do much physical activity with your dog, teaching your dog how to do new tricks is another way to keep them stimulated. The American Kennel Club has a variety of videos that’ll teach you how to teach your dog neat tricks like how to jump through a hoop or how to spin and twist.