We all wish we could live like our dogs: Eat, Sleep, Play, Repeat (sounds “ruff”!). While they may seem to enjoy this daily routine, pups can experience boredom and restlessness, just like us!
The Instinct to Work
Historically, most dogs were bred to complete tasks alongside humans like herding livestock, hunting, search and rescue, guarding, etc. Presently, the majority of our furry friends are more companions than workers. That doesn’t mean their instinct to work disappears altogether.
Unlike us, dogs can’t take themselves outside to play or feel a sense of accomplishment working throughout the day. You’d get bored too if you sat around the house all day! It’s important to provide your pups with enriching activities because when boredom sets in, trouble can ensue. Mental stimulation and exercise can make a world of difference to your pup- and sometimes your household items.
Signs of Boredom in Dogs
Boredom portrays itself in a variety of forms. Knowing what boredom looks like in dogs will help you determine which steps to take next. Chewing on furniture and other unwanted items, barking, whining, digging through the garbage and yard are all destructive and negative behaviors that can be associated with a lack of stimulation.
Additionally, if you have a “velcro dog” that follows you around the house, you may be witnessing signs of boredom as well. You are your dog’s main entertainment source so if they see you get up and move around, they want to join in on the fun-even if it just to walk to the bathroom.
Enriching Activities for Dogs
To help with this, give them opportunities to work their minds, especially when you are not home, with interactive toys like treat-filled kongs, puzzles and more! Playing games can encourage positive behaviors. Some indoor games that fuel the mind include tug-of-war or fetch.
Don’t leave their toys around the house. Instead, you can hide them in approved areas for your pup to find. If you can’t buy new toys, rotating out the toy collection with varying types will make them feel as if they are getting new toys each week!
For very active dogs, exercise is key! A bored dog has a lot of energy they need to exert, and without it results in the destructive behaviors discussed above. A long run or some walks a few times a day can help your anxious pup relax during downtime. If your schedule does not allow for it, hire a dog walker or sitter to take them outside for walks or to play a good, long game of frisbee. Your dog’s mind will thank you for it!
Socialization and Training
For those who need extra mental stimulation…socialize, socialize, socialize! Doggy daycare can help with training as it introduces them to new people, dogs, and environments in a safe, neutral space. This can be extremely beneficial throughout their lives by teaching them that the real world is not such a scary place.
Even if it is just a few days a week, daycare can allow your pup to see other dogs and people that they normally wouldn’t at home- which can be very exciting for the mind. You can also try the dog park or weekly play dates with other doggy friends. Adding a companion for them at home can also make loneliness a thing of the past.
Some dogs can’t thrive from the same, monotonous exercises each week. Dogs who are meant to work might benefit from classes such as herding or agility. Daily walks can be helpful, but they allow for moseying around and less focus. A focused dog has to work harder at the task at hand and scheduled classes for specific tasks can be a nice change from the normal.
Helping your dog deal with boredom is essential to a happy and healthy home life. Tweaking their daily routine regularly will help exercise the mind and give your pup activities to look forward to every day of the week!