How to Recognize and Prevent Dog Boredom
"I'm so bored!" Has your dog ever told you that? No? Are you sure? If your pup is chewing up the house, digging holes in the garden, barking for no apparent reason, escaping to roam around the neighborhood, or otherwise misbehaving, that may be exactly what they're trying to tell you. Although we view such behaviors as "bad," they're often signs that your dog isn't getting enough physical exercise and mental stimulation.
Raising your voice or putting your dog in their crate won't help. In fact, these actions may perpetuate your pet's boredom. To help your dog become the best companion possible, you must be the friend and caretaker they need by providing food, shelter, and medical care—as well as the stimulation they crave. These activities will go a long way toward preventing dog boredom and alleviating problem behaviors.
While every fur friend requires physical activity, how much exercise your dog needs depends on their breed (or mix of breeds), age, physical health, and individual activity level. If your dog was bred to be a lap-warmer or is elderly, one or two short walks each day may be plenty. If their ancestors were bred to hunt or work long hours, your dog will likely need much more exercise. Try these physically challenging games to keep your pup active.
Even if you have no plans for your dog to take home a trophy in an agility course, scent tracking, or competitive obedience, training your dog to learn these skills—anything that requires your pooch (and you!) to think and learn—will help relieve dog boredom. It's a lot easier to teach your dog to do something than to not do something, and replacing unwanted behaviors with acceptable ones will make you both much happier.
Quick and Easy Games
"Find it" games are fun dog boredom busters, and they're easy to play in short bits of time. Play a few minutes of "hide the toy" to keep your dog's mind sharp. You can even have a family member hide and challenge your dog to find them. (If you do this outside your home, please keep your dog fenced in or on a leash.)
Outdoor Bonding Activities
Fun outdoor dog activities will provide your pup plenty of physical exercise and keep their mind busy. Taking your fur friend out for a jog, going for a hike, or playing a game of fetch in the yard are just a few simple ways you can exercise outside together. These exciting one-on-one physical activities will also help you and your dog build a stronger relationship!
Your pooch's mind needs exercise, too. Dogs are hunters at heart, and hunters depend on their alertness and intelligence for survival. You may do the work of providing their food these days, but that canine mind is still looking for problems to solve. If you don't engage your dog, they will likely make up some mind games to stay entertained. Occupy your pup with these mental dog boredom busters.
Making your dog work for their food can serve as a satisfying endeavor. Pick up some dog toys that are specifically designed for mental exercise, such as puzzle toys or toys that contain hidden treats. You can also hide bits of kibble around the house as a treasure hunt or put your pup's favorite spread in a stuffable dog chew toy.
Good-quality chew toys can entertain your fur friend for hours on end. Keep a stash of dog chew toys in different shapes and flavors, but only let your dog access two or three at a time. Put the rest away and switch them out when they become worn.
There are also ways to incorporate mental challenges into everyday life. Instructing your dog to bring in the newspaper or mail will give them a stimulating activity while teaching obedience. You can train your dog to do other chores such as carrying dirty socks to the hamper or putting plastic bottles and jugs in the recycling bin (as long they're safe items with no sharp edges).
Use your own imagination to engage your dog's mind. Something as simple as changing your daily walk route can help fend off dog boredom, giving your dog new things to see and smell. Dogs experience the world largely through their noses, and sniffing along the way is part of a satisfying outing. When you get home, give your pup a short grooming session, some back scratching, or a nice belly rub to keep the routine fresh.
An engaged dog is usually a happy dog, so giving your fur friend some new activities to try will benefit their mental and physical health in the long run. Plus, spending more time exercising together can help you and your dog grow even closer!