3 Signs Your Dog is Bored (And What to Do About It)
Do you think your dog is bored? There’s a pretty good chance they are.
Like us, our dogs get bored when they’re not given things to do throughout the day. But unlike us they’re pretty limited in what they can do to entertain themselves. They don’t have a job, they can’t go to the park on their own, they don’t get to walk themselves, and they can’t hang out with their friends whenever they want.
We’re their main source of entertainment. We dictate when they eat, play and exercise. If we don’t give them enough to do they’re going to get bored, and bored dogs get into trouble.
If you think your dog is bored there are some ways to tell, and there’s a lot of options when it comes to fixing it. Here’s 3 signs that your dog is bored, and what you can do about it.
1. Exhibiting Destructive Behaviors
Excessive chewing, barking, digging, getting into the trash – these sorts of destructive behaviors are often caused by dog boredom. If you’re not giving your dog things to do they’ll find ways of entertaining themselves. And that includes habits like chewing up shoes and digging up the garden; things us humans aren’t too keen on.
To stop destructive behaviors we need to give our dogs something more constructive to do. We often focus on punishment, and then fail to follow up by teaching them what to do instead. It’s our job to teach our dogs about what’s acceptable and encourage good habits.
Use Doggie Boredom Busters
When Laika was younger she was always getting into mischief (the magic of puppies). To stop her from tearing up the house I’d give her something mentally stimulating to do such as a food puzzle or a Kong stuffed with frozen treats.
Little boredom busters like that might not seem like much, but to our dogs they’re mentally exhausting. We’ve all heard that a tired dog is a good dog – but it’s about more than just physical exercise.
While many behavioral problems stem from boredom the answer isn’t necessarily just adding in more physical exercise. When it comes to mental stimulation it doesn’t take much to tire out your dog; a frozen Kong will tire out my dog as much as a 30 minute walk.
A good combination of physical & mental exercise is what helps keep our dogs happy and entertained. In addition to your daily walk add in a few training sessions or interactive games throughout the day. If you’re not sure where to begin here’s a list of 33 ways to keep your dog busy indoors.
2. Attention Seeking (Barking or Whining)
My dog’s certainly not shy when it comes to letting me know that she’s bored. She’ll come right up to me and nudge my hand, and if that doesn’t work the whining and grumbling begins. Our dogs know exactly how to get our attention, and barking at you (demand barking) works extremely well.
Some dogs don’t even bother with the whining or barking; they’ll get right up in your face (or onto your lap) if they’re bored. These are attention seeking behaviors, and they’re a good indicator that your dog is bored and looking for something to do.
Give Your Dog a Daily Routine
The way I managed Laika’s attention seeking was by setting up a daily routine. She knows when it’s time to walk, eat, relax and play. It’s amazing how well dogs like schedules; if Laika had a daily planner I’m sure she’d give our 2pm tug time a bunch of bone flavored stickers every day. By walking her in the morning and encouraging her to relax until 2pm she’s learned that “Morning time = napping on the couch time.”
Dogs are creatures of habit, so by providing them with a consistent daily routine they know what’s expected of them. By feeding our dogs at the same time every day we give them security; they don’t have to worry about when they’ll get their next meal. And the same is true for activities and exercise; a consistent routine will teach your dog when it’s time to play, walk and relax.
3. Following You Around (Velcro Dog Syndrome)
Does your dog follow you around everywhere? It may be due to boredom. We’re our dogs main source of entertainment, we make all those big decisions like when it’s time to go to the park. So when we get up to go and do something our dogs are inclined to check it out.
Not all dogs who follow you around are doing so out of boredom. Some dogs just enjoy being close to their owners, and some dogs have been bred to be dependent (lap dogs). If your dog is calmly following your around it’s nothing to worry about; it’s up to you to decide if you find it endearing (I fall in that camp), or if you’d rather encourage independent behaviors.
When my dog Laika was younger she followed me around everywhere, and she certainly wasn’t calm about it. She’d get this excited look on her face like ‘OK what are we doing? Are we going to the park? Are we going to play frisbee? Whatever it is I’m so ready!’ That was a big cue that she was looking for something to do (and that I anthropomorphize way too much, but that’s a subject for another day).
Provide Your Dog With Enough Exercise
If your dog gets excited every time you get up it’s time to figure out why they’re getting so pumped up. Chances are they have some excess energy to burn off. Does your dog get enough physical exercise? Does he have some mentally stimulating things to do throughout the day?
Do you take your dog for a walk every day? If not that’s the best way to give your dog some physical & mental exercise. It’s such an important part of your dogs routine, and for most of our dogs it’s the one time of day they get to go out and explore and see what’s going on in the outside world. Another easy way to give your dog more physical exercise is by playing a game of frisbee or using a flirt pole.
If your dog gets plenty of physical exercise they might be looking for some more mental stimulation. A couple of my favorite ways to mentally tire out my dog are by using a Kong stuffed with healthy treats or playing a game of find the treats.
What Do You to Do Keep Your Dog From Getting Bored?
How do you keep your dog from getting bored? Do you have a routine for your dog’s walk and games? Do you have any favorite doggie boredom busters?
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