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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By West Chester Pet Resort & Spa 20 Jun, 2017
Now that summer is just around the corner, family vacations are about to be in full swing. While traveling with your pet certainly has its benefits, there are things that you need to know before jet-setting with Fluffy in tow.

First and foremost, having your pet as your co-pilot completely alleviates the worry of who is going to care for them while you're away. This question is always an anxiety for pet owners. The option of traveling with them is especially beneficial if your pet has behavioral issues such as separation anxiety.

Crating your pet while driving to your destination is never a bad option. They're confined and safe, and you as the driver are less distracted. Just be sure to remove collars and leashes to prevent a strangling incident and keep the air flow on them.

If your pet has never been crated, you can find a great video here  by "Dog Guru" Cesar Milan on tome tips and tricks to crate training.

While the car is in motion, feeding your dog is one big "Don't!" If you are on an extended road trip and your pet needs a meal, the next time you stop, feed a small snack- preferably high in protein. And remember to never leave your furry friend in the car, especially during these warm months!

Now, traveling with your pet in an airplane is a much more complicated process as you will more than likely want to book a direct flight. Communicating with the airline prior to travel dates is absolutely imperative. Many airlines have strict regulations for canine and feline travel and their regulations may vary based on the airline and the destination.

However you decide to travel, always remember that if you are taking a not-so-pet-friendly vacation, we would love your pet to stay with us while you are away.  West Chester Pet Resort offers a variety of services to make your pets stay a fun- filled adventure. Call to book your pet’s adventure today!

-West Chester Pet Resort & Spa
http://www.wcpetresort.com/
513-898-9631
By Kathy McRoberts 03 Dec, 2014

Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine


When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.

But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.

At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.

So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.

When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.

We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth:  The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.

Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing  earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.

“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.

So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:

  • You hear your Husky howling, and immediately storm in to reprimand her. How is this reinforcement? To many dogs, having a beloved human present (even a beloved yet annoyed human) is better than feeling lonesome. Your dog begins to think her howling is prompting you to chime in.
  • Your Lab whines pitifully as you begin to leave the house, so you return to take him with you. Over time, your dog starts believing that his whining causes you to come back for him (Pavlov’s theory, anyone?).
  • Your Westie mix cowers and growls behind the sofa whenever company arrives, so you pick him up and coo “Ohhhh, you’re fine, what a gooooood boy….” Soon, your dog begins to equate hiding and trembling with oodles of TLC.

“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.

Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.

The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”

Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.

Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress

The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )

Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.

Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.



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