Ever wondered if dogs get bored? The simple answer is yes, dogs suffer from boredom, just like us humans. Initially, dogs were bred to work. However, dogs have little work to do these days other than hang around with their owners and family, which isn’t a bad gig considering dogs are inherently social creatures. Doing a whole lot of nothing in a dog’s world can quickly lead to boredom and destructive behaviors. So, how can you tell if your dog is bored out of his mind? What can you do to ensure he isn’t bored all the time? Here’s a closer look at this issue and what you can do to help your pet.
Is My Dog Bored or Tired? Boredom vs Tired
Contemplating whether your dog is suffering from boredom or is merely tired? A bored dog can get into all kinds of mischief if left to his own devices long enough. Ever see the YouTube videos where the dog is running about the house crazed, shredding pillow after pillow because he’s home alone? Those dogs may be stressed or suffer from separation anxiety and have nothing else to do but entertain themselves. Other destructive behaviors resulting from boredom include chewing on furniture, getting into the trash, excessive barking, digging up your backyard, counter surfing, and jumping on you and your guests. Even those cute, funny zoomies that your dog has often can be due to boredom.
How to keep a dog from being bored when home alone
The key to preventing a dog from being bored — and therefore from being destructive — is to make sure its physical and mental needs are met before you leave. Walk your dog before you leave and, if you will be gone for several hours, arrange for someone to walk or play with your dog while you’re away. This is especially helpful if you have a puppy, a younger dog, or a breed that is very high energy.
If your dog is tired, you’ll know it, because a tired dog is a good dog. It’s true, if your dog has his mental and physical needs met, he is most likely content and chill. Don’t be fooled into thinking your dog is tired every time he lays down. Because every dog is unique, it’s up to you to determine your dog’s energy needs, which will change as your dog ages. A bored puppy has very different needs from a bored adult or senior dog.
Every day, ask yourself if you’ve met your dog’s needs. Did you provide your pet with enough playtime with toys and exercise (going for a walk or playing fetch)? If bad weather kept you indoors, did you make up for it by a couple tug-of-war or fetch sessions?
Have you stimulated his mind with games like hide-and-seek (with treats or toys), training commands, or tricks? If the answer is no to any of these necessary parts of your dog’s day, he’ll let you know about it, probably sooner rather than later, so prepare to hide the pillows.
Do Dogs Get Bored With Toys?
Dogs, like many humans, tire of old things relatively quickly. Researchers have found dogs show neophilia (the preference for something new or novel), just like humans. This could explain why your dog shows pure enjoyment and excitement when you present him with a new toy, and within minutes it’s yesterday’s news. Lucky for you, there are a few things you can do to reintroduce a toy that may extend your dog’s appreciation for it. First, make sure the toys you offer your pet are soft, easy to chew on, they make noise, and they are easily manipulable. Hiding away some of your dog’s toys can help make them seem new again to your pet, as can making a toy seem different—roll it around in the grass, spritz it with some fabric softener, simply playing with your dog with the toy can make a huge difference in how your dog views the toy.
Our Busy Ball was designed to prevent boredom in dogs. Its computer chip rolls away in unpredictable ways, so that when you’re not around, your dog’s motion will activate the toy and move when your dog is near.
What Are Boredom Busters for Dogs?
If you’re looking for boredom busters—ways to relieve your dog’s boredom, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 10 ways to keep your dog busy:
- Change up your walk. While dogs thrive on routine, changing up your daily stroll can introduce your pet to a whole other world of sights, sounds, and scents that could stimulate his mind.
- Play nose games. Sniffing is your dog’s way of deciphering his world, and playing scent games like hide-and-seek with treats can add some much-needed mental stimulation to a bored dog.
- Use interactive toys. These newer “smart toys” are among the best toys for bored dogs. Whether you are home or away, interactive or smart toys can keep your dog occupied and on his toes, ensuring he won’t suffer from any boredom.
- Practice some obedience training. Teaching your dog new commands or skills can work his mind while improving his impulse control and manners.
- Give your dog some chores. Yep, children aren’t the only household members that need to pitch in. Teach your dog how to pick up his toys after playtime or pick up sticks in the yard. Some owners have taught their dogs to put their dog bowls in the dishwasher.
- Plan a play date. Remember, dogs are social creatures; they need to spend time with other canines. Get your pet out to socialize, whether it’s with a neighbor’s dog, your local doggy daycare, or the dog park.
- Create a digging box. If your dog is a digger, build him a dirt box where he can dig to his heart’s content. Hide a few goodies (aka toy bones, toys, or treats) throughout the box to give him exercise and mental stimulation.
- Take your dog for a swim. Most dogs love the water, and a good splash in a kiddie pool in your backyard pool or a swim at your local lake can chill a bored dog out in a relatively short time. Note: not all dogs are swimmers! Be sure that your dog wears a life jacket, and you are always present while he’s in the water.
- Build your pet an agility course. If you have a high-energy breed like a Siberian husky, border collie, or a Jack Russell terrier, an agility course may teach your dog some new tricks while relieving his boredom.
- Give your dog something to chew on. Chew toys, Kongs filled with peanut butter or cheese, or bully sticks can keep your pet’s attention and give him something to do while you’re busy at home or away.
Remember, if your dog’s shredding your couch instead of lying in it, you need to help him redirect his energy.