How to Keep Your Dog From Being Bored

  • By Kathy McRoberts
  • 05 Mar, 2010

Do you hate leaving your dog home alone all day long? Or do you sometimes come home to telltale signs of boredom - your favorite shoes chewed up, stuff knocked over on the floor, or worse? Here are a few creative ideas on how you can beat the boredom blues.

You may have heard that dogs need physical exercise regularly, but they also need mental exercise in order to be happy and content. Dogs are naturally "working" animals. Many were bred as working breeds - dogs with jobs. Dogs were never meant to just lay around and sleep all day, they need something to do, something to occupy their mind. If they don't have that, they tend to become frustrated and bored, which can lead to many undesirable behaviors.  

Try these tips...

  1. Physical exercise plays a big role in keeping your dog from becoming bored. Draining some physical energy, especially in the morning if possible, can help your dog to feel tired and restful throughout the day. Take him out for a walk in the morning before leaving for work if you can. If that is not feasible, try playing a game of ball or chase or rough-housing for a few minutes. If you have a large yard, there are toys that allow you to throw a tennis ball a long distance for them to fetch and bring back. Even a few minutes of hard running is a good workout.
  2. Keep her mind stimulated. Try providing interactive puzzle toys. These are toys that you fill with treats or kibble, and the dog has to figure out how to get the treats to come out. Or provide her with toys that make noise or flash when bumped or rolled. You can find these toys at most pet stores.
  3. In the summer, try a toy like the Kong that you can stuff with a wide variety of food items such as canned dog food, yogurt or peanut better (or both mixed) and then freeze it. This will occupy him for quite a long time.
  4. Give your dog large, healthy chew toys or Nylabones that will provide hours of chewing pleasure. You can also soak rope toys in chicken broth and freeze them. She will love this tasty chew.
  5. You can try hiding treats, kibble or toys around your house or yard for him to search for. Dogs love a mental challenge. Even just a handful of kibble tossed and scattered into the grass, if he will be outside, will create a fun treasure hunt for him for a while.
  6. Get to know your neighbors who have dogs. Offer to alternate having play dates for the dogs. If their schedule differs from yours, you could take turns baby sitting each other's dog, so that the dogs can enjoy time playing together. Or utilize your family and friends who might have the time to stop by and play with or walk your dog for a few minutes during the day.
  7. Consider a professional   ,   , or   . Even if utilized only one or two days a week, it can help break up the normal routine and provide an outlet for her physical and mental energy.
  8. If your dog will be outside during the day, you can designate or create a digging place in the yard. It could be as simple as a child's sand box that you burry some toys or treats in. The more your dog has his own place to play, dig, hunt or destroy things, the less he will use your things for that purpose.
  9. Leave the television or radio on while you are gone. It may sound silly, but you'd be surprised at how much they'll pay attention to the sights and sounds.
  10. If you can, come home during your lunch hour and spend 5-10 minutes of playing or chasing your dog. He'll love the mid-day break

Always be aware of safety issues and be careful not to provide toys with small parts that can be choked on. Vary the toys provided so that your dog will stay interested.  

Just remember, dogs need an outlet for both physical and mental energy, and the more you can   safely   provide that, the more peaceful and stress-free your household will be. And NEVER punish boredom - prevent it instead.  

If you have any other ideas or tips that work for your dog, I'd love to hear about it!

Originally compiled by Kathy McRoberts on March 3, 2010

Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

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