Is Your Dog Bored?

The pace of modern life means it’s not always possible to spend as much time as you’d like with your dog. Be warned, though, that a bored dog can mean trouble with a capital T.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Bored?

Although dogs are creatures of habit, they still crave both physical and mental exercise. So, if you don’t provide it for them, you’re not only missing out on an opportunity to bond with your dog, but he may get bored and start to entertain himself, perhaps by doing things you don’t like. A dog without a job makes up their own occupation!

Bored dogs may:

  • Dig;
  • Chew;
  • Run away;
  • Bark or otherwise try to get your attention;
  • Harass the cat, annoy you, chase the ball under the couch repeatedly, lick/chew themselves, and so on. 

How To Prevent Boredom in Dogs

Preventing Boredom at Home

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from boredom, you may want to:

  • Make a list of simple tricks to teach your dog and try to teach a new trick every few weeks.
  • Keep a well-stocked box of dog toys (out of view) to provide diversion when it is needed. Rotate toys every few days, keeping three to four out at all times.
  • Introduce food-dispensing toys to your dogs.
  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Simply hanging around in the backyard won’t be enough. Do things with your dog, like taking long walks or playing fetch.
  • Interact with your dog and offer praise and a treat for good behaviour. See how many good behaviours you can reward in a day.
  • Take your dog along when visiting friends or running errands or ask a friend to drop in and visit.
  • Use a dog walking service or consider doggy day care on a day or two every week.
  • Consider taking your dog to a dog sport such as agility or fly ball. Then they are more likely to settle when at home.

Preventing Boredom at Work

If you take your dog to work with you and need to occupy them, some of the following may help:

  • Give your dog regular breaks, taking them outside and walking them on varied routes for 10 minutes or more.
  • Enlist the help of colleagues to take your dog outside or mind them while you are busy.
  • Give your dog a selection of toys and rotate these around during the day.
  • Use food-releasing toys to keep your dog occupied.
  • Give your dog treats to keep them occupied. This can be useful if you have to answer telephones or attend meetings and you need your dog to remain quiet!

Remember

Your dog's lifestyle influences his behaviour. Regular walks or play periods with your dog and giving him the attention and praise from you that he craves will make your dog’s life fun and stimulating. A happy dog is less likely to develop annoying behaviour problems.

About Dr Joanne Righetti

Dr Joanne RighettiDr Jo Righetti is an animal behaviourist, educating people in all aspects of the human–animal relationship. Her background is in zoology, with a PhD in animal behaviour and a counselling diploma – qualifications which enable her to work with all sorts of animals – including the human variety! Joanne likes to help pet owners understand their pet's behaviour and solve any pet behaviour problems. She consults with vet clinics, organisations, companies,  councils, universities and media and is a regular guest on radio, with pet behaviour Q&As. Jo has also written a number of pet behaviour books and loves chatting to people on social media channels. Jo lives with a dog and 4 cats, as well as 3 sons and a husband. Find out more about Joanne at www.petproblemsolved.com.au.