12 Tips To Relieve Dog Boredom

Dogs are social creatures. They can easily become bored if they don’t get enough attention. Bored dogs will seek out interesting activities, but it’s possible for them to be dangerous.

Canine boredom is easy to identify, but it can be difficult for busy owners to deal with. Unless your dog has other pets or children, you will need to find ways to help them refocus their energy to more productive areas.

Dogs are known for their simple pleasures: a long, relaxing nap, good food, and a stroll around the neighborhood. They can get bored and restless, even though they enjoy a routine. Dogs, just like humans, need mental and physical stimulation in order to live fulfilling lives.

Boredom isn’t the minor nuisance that it is often dismissed as. Animal boredom can be biologically explained: animals seek stimulation and avoid monotony,” said Charlotte C. Burn, University of London biologist in an August 2017 paper published by Animal Behavior.

Detecting Boredom in Dogs

How can you tell if your dog has boredom? According to Dr. Abby Coodin of Painted Sky Veterinary Services, Amery, Wisconsin, boredom can most times lead to negative behavior such as whining, destroying, chewing, clawing, or barking.

There are many types of dogs that get restless. Younger dogs and working breeds might need the most stimulation. However, any breed or dog can get bored, according to Tiffany Talley, a certified behavior counselor and specialist for All Things Canine in Tulsa.

Talley suggests: “You could bring home multiple holes in your yard… You might also find a very stimulated and happy dog when you get home from work.” This is when the amazing family interaction and affection begins.

All of us want our dogs to have the best lives possible. This includes mental stimulation, entertainment, and having fun. We asked our experts to help us alleviate and prevent boredom in our furry friends.

What Causes Dogs to Get Bored?

Healthy, happy dogs and puppies don’t have to be irritable. If your dog becomes bored due to lack of exercise, toys, and interaction with you, she may become frustrated and behave inappropriately. Here are some principles to remember:

Repetition of problem behaviors can become more difficult to break. It is important to give your dog many opportunities to express their feelings in positive ways. It is equally important to teach your dog early what behavior is unacceptable.

Multi-dog households have the advantage that a puppy can be introduced to a playgroup of dogs. Bored youngsters can also irritate and pester an older dog.

Humans are responsible for keeping solo dogs entertained. Engaging with your dog in a positive way not only keeps them healthy and active, but also stimulates their brain through play and training.

Dogs love to have a job and they are happier when they do. You can find creative ways to keep your dog busy.

Dogs can display boredom through a lot of bad behavior. If a puppy is bored and left outside, it may start to bark to get rid of any excess energy, or to hear its voice.

One dog might decide to dig under the fence to find more exciting activities. Boredom is common and can be difficult to overcome.

Dogs and puppies often chew out of boredom. This can lead to them getting into trouble if they don’t have enough chewable objects.

How to Relieve Dog Boredom

Your dog is the best. You can try a variety of strategies to stimulate your dog. It’s okay to try a few different strategies at once. You will likely find that you can stop boredom by actively trying to.

1. Acquire New Toys

Dogs get bored of the same toy every day. If you have multiple dogs, make sure they each have a different toy. To ensure that they don’t fight over toys, aim for at least three to four toys per pet.

Eight to ten toys is a good number for a singleton puppy. To keep the toys fresh, rotate them. Also, create a schedule. You can swap the toys out every two to three days.

2. Provide Stimulation

Puzzle toys such as the Orbee Tuff Mazee are great for keeping your pup interested for long periods of time. Toys that allow you to hide treats are a big hit.

For more boredom relief, you can change the type of treat. Peanut butter, cream cheese, and other commercially made treats work.

3. Let them Chew

Also, provide legal chewing opportunities. Teething puppies require something to chew on their gums. However, any dog can enjoy chewing to relieve boredom or stress.

If your veterinarian allows, rawhide chews and dental chews as well as other safe chew-options such as sterilized bone (if approved) might be a better option. As long as you are there to supervise, it may also work.

4. Get Outside

Terriers love digging up dirt. A bored terrier might dig through your potted plant looking for dirt.

You can prevent this from happening by giving your dog a sandbox to play in and hiding favorite toys for him to dig. Your dog will be less likely than a human to dig in areas that aren’t allowed to be dug.

5. Provide Toy Alternatives

You can give your dog music to listen to or watch a video. You can set the TV to an animal show so that your dog can watch squirrel antics while you are away. Also, you may keep your pup entertained by watching caged pets like fish, hamsters, and mice.

You should make sure that the small critters are not being stressed by your puppy’s staring and yearning attention.

6. Hone Your Senses

Your bored pup can be kept happy by doing nose work. The pup will be able to engage its senses by sniffing out the rewards and put its paws to use. To reward Hansel or Gretel, create a treasure hunt for canines.

Before you go, hide stuffed Kongs and dry dog biscuits in your yard or house. If your puppy fails to pass the sniff test, make sure you pick them up.

After the first sniff test, you should show your dog the place where the treats were hidden. Then, let the dog’s nose do the rest. This is especially useful for hunting dogs like Labrador retrievers or golden retrievers.

7. Ensure Safe Togetherness

It is best to keep a puppy and an adult apart until everyone gets along. Install a baby gate to keep your dog from being lonely or making wailing noises. You may be able to reduce barking, scratching, and digging at your door.

You can keep your dog entertained by planning ahead. Boredom can lead to bad habits. This will keep everyone happy and tail-wagging.

8. Do Some Exercise and Mix it Up

Dogs don’t care about how tired you are, they just need to be active every day. Coodin says that boredom and obesity are often linked for dogs.

These can often be linked because dogs aren’t moving as much, she says. And for some dogs, simply walking everyday is not enough to prevent boredom and weight gain.

Talley recommends “taking your dog to a different environment” (in fact even driving to a place new can be mentally stimulating for dogs) or “doing something new, playing a game, or engaging in a different behavior.”

Coodin suggests running or biking with your dog, if possible, because this encourages mental stimulation and fitness. She says that running or biking releases more energy than a walk.

Their mind must be focused because they are doing their job. They can look around and see where they are going, but not be able to smell the smells. They have to be attentive when they are running or bicycling with you.

9. Get Social

Coodin says that socialization is a key aspect of training. It’s also important to keep boredom away. She says that socialization can allow dogs to interact with the outside world more and provide entertainment. It has two parts: Your dog should be able interact with other dogs and humans. They will be less likely to become isolated or bored if they are socialized.

Coodin says that this process is most effective during puppyhood. “The most crucial time for them is the first 7-10 weeks of their life. This is when they’ll see the world, including the people and animals.

They need to have a good understanding of all aspects of the environment so that when they grow up, they don’t fear them.”

Another benefit of having a social dog is the following: It is much easier to get physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Talley states that playing with other dogs is a great way to get exercise. “Pairing dogs of similar temperaments and play styles can be beneficial for both your dog and the other dog,” he says. Dog parks and doggie day care are good options for larger, more energetic dogs.

10. Use Food Puzzles

Dog boredom can be eliminated by changing the way you feed your dog. Make it a task and not a routine. Talley states that humans can feed dogs from a bowl. This is fast and easy. They can also use puzzles to provide dry diet. The dog can hide food under the bowls or around the kitchen. Or, they can leave treats out in the yard for the reward.

Coodin says that there are “a lot of puzzle toys for dogs these days.” Talley suggests interactive bowls and stick-and-ball puzzles as some examples. Dogs can identify the compartment in which food is stored and then figure out how they can open it. But not all dogs will be able to do this.

Some dogs may lose interest and find it difficult to figure out the right way. A puzzle may be the best thing for your dog, depending on their level of skill and needs.

11. Get Your Dog to Work

Many dogs, especially hunting and herding breeds, always want to work. It doesn’t have to be pulling a dog sled or training as a K-9 officer. This can include any task or game that requires work. Boredom is often experienced when a dog has been neglected or not given a job.

Some jobs may require nose work. This can be as simple as dogs identifying certain objects in the house. (i.e. keeping away treats and encouraging your dog to find them). Dogs can feel like they are doing work when learning new tricks and behaviors.

Exercise can also be considered work. Dogs can find a job if they are able to become running partners or agility partners, and this will help them get out there.

12. Register for Classes

A class with a trainer in your area can be a great way to keep boredom away. Registering with a local trainer can help your dog take their nose work to the next level.

There are certain dogs that are in training or classes to learn scent identification. These could be either dogs that have been cadaver-trained or those that have been trained to be scent dogs with herbs, or something else.

Obedience and agility training are also options. Talley says that agility or jumps classes are great ways to help. Jumps classes sound exactly like they do. They are similar to mini-equestrian classes for dogs.

Agility classes combine jumps with tunnels, weave poles and other obstacles. This course requires a minimum level of obedience training before enrollment.

These classes are not for play sessions with other dogs. They are focused on the activities. The classes are for dogs that are off-lead, but they have jobs or exercises to perform in the presence of humans.

How to Manage Your Dog’s Boredom

Make sure your dog is enrolled in a positive reinforcement class by finding a training facility that is legitimate. If your dog is acting out, you can turn to behaviorists, trainers, or veterinarians for help.

Coodin says that it is best to speak with a trainer who is experienced in animal behavior training. This will help determine if there are any medical reasons why your dog is acting out.

Conclusion

Make sure your dog is enrolled in a positive reinforcement class by finding a training facility that is legitimate. If your dog is acting out, you can turn to behaviorists, trainers, or veterinarians for help.

Coodin says that it is best to speak with a trainer who is experienced in animal behavior training. This will help determine if there are any medical reasons why your dog is acting out.

As I always say, “May Your Home Be Filled With Love And Dog Hair”

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Mark

Founder of Our Dogs World 101

17 thoughts on “12 Tips To Relieve Dog Boredom”

  1. I see my dog enjoys going out with me when I go jogging. But I had not tried all these other ways to avoid boredom. I would like to try some food puzzles. And registering my dog in a class would be exciting, even for me. I have always wanted to enroll him in obedience and agility training.

    Reply
  2. I once read that dogs get bored just like people do.  Dogs want to go out, see new things, smell new smells…just like people do.  I am a single person and had a dog for 14 years.  I’ve found many ways to combat her boredom and for the most part, it just involved taking her with me whenever I could.  I took her with me to outside public events, parks, running errands, on my patio when I was visiting with friends.  It’s hard when they’re puppies but it won’t be long before they are socialized and learn to behave themselves in public! 

    Reply
  3. There are some excellent tips here Mark and some I have already tried. Even small dogs can get bored and our little guy becomes sad if he isn’t walked about every two days. He sighs a lot (yes really) and mopes around the house or comes and taps you on the leg to get your attention. Our dogs watch us as much as we watch them and if you pay attention it’s very easy to tell when they are getting bored or need more stimulation. 

    The best I have found is socializing on our beach walks, I think being an only dog he gets lonely for other puppies. He’s happiest when he is running along the beach meeting new dogs.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments Lily and my two are exactly the same when it comes to walking. They seem to have worked out that if they pester me enough I will eventually give in and they get their walk LOL!

      Beach walks are the best aren’t they?

      Mark

      Reply
  4. Hello Mark, thank you so much for providing such useful tips. I have a Yorky and he is full of energy and excitement. If I don’t play with him, he gets bored very easily. The best thing that I found is to take short runs inside my apartment and he just loves it. I take a 10-second run and then sit and relax. I repeat every now and then and it keeps him so happy 🙂 Like you rightly said, keeping them engaged is so vital to their well-being and happiness. Thank you for the tips I am going to try some of them.

    Reply
  5. I am glad I found the article and your website.  As it happens, we employ all 12 of your suggestions but without real intentionality.   We have a happy, active dog but there are times when we have neglected several of your suggestions at once despite doing all of them sometime.  After reading this, we will develop more of a routine.  Thanks for this organized thorough article.

    Reply
  6. Hi Mark, these are great tips on how to relieve boredom in dogs. I have often found that when our dogs are bored, that is when they get up to mischief and start digging holes in my flowerbeds or eating things that they shouldn’t. 

    Thankfully we live in an area with many pine trees, and I have found that the dogs love pine cones, so that can keep them happy for a long time chewing the pine cones. Or running around with sticks and chewing the firewood, is also very popular with my dogs. Do you think the pine kernels might be bad for dogs? 

    Reply
    • Hi Line,

      Pine cones are non toxic which means they are fine as far as poisons etc go. You would just need to be careful that they don’t choke.

      While they would have to chew and swallow a few of them I have heard of dogs becoming constipated.

      Thanks for your comment and I hope this helped.

      Mark

      Reply
  7. This is a very interesting article. We recently moved to a new area and our friends kept out lab/hound mix for about a month while we were waiting for our house. They have two other dogs, and our dog loved being there we could tell. Since taking him back, I have noticed that he may be bored, or missing his two dog friends. I know it sound funny, but he acts almost depressed. Have you experienced this?

    Reply
    • Hi AL,

      This is quite common in dogs, especially in the case of a two dog family, where one of the dogs passes away.

      Much like humans our dogs miss that company when it is gone, however it never usually lasts for to long.

      If it does continue I would advice seeing your vet.

      Mark

      Reply
  8. I have had this problem with Olivia for so long. The thing is that she’s always with me, like literally 24/7 (unless I have to leave the house), so she’s always trying to find new things to either bite on or to bring it to me so I can chase her all around the house trying to get it off her mouth. She’s a wild one. Every time I go out I bring her a new toy and in a matter of seconds, or weeks, it’ll be destroyed. 

    Reply
    • Hi Stephanie,

      If your dog is a real chewer you may want to have a look at the Benebones as they are not only full of real flavor but also designed for the aggressive chewer.

      The Kong is also another great product which you can fill with their favorite treat.

      Mark

      Reply
  9. I love how in depth you went with your article.  You didn’t just provide the one liner, you gave a nice chunk of information surrounding each of the ways to cure dog boredom.  My dogs (4 of them) constantly have each other to play around so it makes it pretty simple for me… until they decide they don’t want to play with one another.  Then I get a whack and a paw in my face to get my butt up and play! 🙂 

    I love it!  Great article and thanks for sharing your insight!  I will certainly make sure to incorporate these tactics when I notice boredom getting the best of my fur babies.

    Reply
  10. Thank you Mark very profound article. I was wondering how do you see digital dog-sitter services? As many dogs are unfortunately long times alone at home. Could digital services be at least one way to help dogs loneliness?

    I’m thinking about trying one of digital dog-sitter services but would love to hear your opinion too.

    Reply
    • Hi Mikko,

      Personally I have never used these apps however clients of mine have and rave about them.

      If your dogs get easily bored at home or possibly suffer from some separation anxiety then I would definitely give them a try.

      If you do I would love to get your feedback on what you think.

      Mark

      Reply

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