When a dog gets bored, that is when the mischief happens. Unfortunately, dogs will exhibit their boredom through negative destructive behavior like chewing on furniture legs, destroying pillows and duvets or scratching at doors and skirting boards so that all the paint is removed.
To stop this happening, owners need to look at ways to relieve their dog’s boredom. This will sometimes mean practicing methods that keep them entertained while they are left on their own in the house, and other ways will require input from the owner when they are in the house so that they wear their dogs out – so much so that they don’t have the energy to be bored.
Hide Food Around The House
Hiding food around the house is a great way to relieve your dog’s boredom – especially when you are out and about. It’s a brilliant idea because so many dogs are food led that their search for what they can smell will keep them out of creating trouble elsewhere, particularly if you hide the grub well enough or leave out enough food.
Good hiding places are underneath very low coffee tables so that your dog has to think very hard about the best way to grab the food they can see or smell. Or in cardboard boxes full of paper that they are allowed to destroy in their quest for the hidden food.
Make sure that you remember where you out the food, however, especially if it is perishable as otherwise, you are likely to have a very smelly house if your dog does not manage to find it all.
If your dog is prone to putting on weight easily and this game will likely mean they pass their calorie intake limit for the day, simply hide their usual kibble or dog food for the same effect.
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Mentally Stimulating Games
Tiring out a dog is often seen as something that can only be done through physical exertion. This is definitely not the case however and so playing mentally stimulating games with them is a surefire way to exhaust them so much that they sleep or rest as opposed to get bored.
Mentally stimulating games can really vary from dog to dog depending on how bright they are, but getting them to find a whole set of a specific toy, that you have placed in different parts of a room, is a good option as well as getting them to find you in a game of hiding and seek around the house. This game is particularly rewarding for many dogs. As is putting all their toys out on the floor and getting them to clear them all up and put them in a basket.
Take Them On Long Walks
While mentally stimulating games are absolutely wonderful for relieving your dog’s boredom, if you have the time, try to take them on a really long walk, preferably off the lead.
A long walk will obviously tire out a dog so that he or she simply sleeps throughout the day – so much so that any negative destructive behavior is never seen simply because they don’t have the energy.
Long walks are also tiring to dogs not just because of the distance traveled but also due to the stimulation they receive investigating and exploring as well as smelling and sniffing as many blades of grass as possible.
In addition to this, you are likely to use more commands than you realize and so they are using their brains again listening to you and (hopefully) responding. Simple tasks like heel, come here and sit are all commands that force your dog to use their brain so over a long walk you will be demanding attention more often from them.
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Play With Them
It may sound obvious, but playing with your dog is a direct method of relieving their boredom. Not only are you keeping them entertained in that time that you are playing with them, you are also tiring them out so that they don’t have the energy to be bored later.
Games that are great for tiring dogs out include tug of war or fetch. Tug of war has the benefit of being able to be played inside and is very physically demanding for pooches. It is, however, physically demanding on owners too so only play this if you are stronger than your dog and your shoulder joints can take it!
Fetch is brilliant if you have the space outside or even indoors. If you go outside, think about investing in a ball thrower so that your dog has to go as far as possible to pick up the ball and bring it back to you. Not only do they have to cover more distance, dogs naturally run as fast as possible during a game of fetch so they will expand even more energy in this manner.
But don’t forget to play with them like they would a pack animal too. A little bit of rough and tumble, if you can physically manage it, with your dog will not only help tire them out, it will also help your bond with them as they will see you as the ultimate source of fun. Plus it’s nice for owners too to see their dogs having a good time.
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Give Them Chew Toys
Giving your dog a chew toy or piece of rawhide is a brilliant way of avoiding any negative and destructive behavior that may come about from being bored – especially if you are out of the house at the time too.
Chew toys are designed to keep dog’s entertained for long periods of time through gnawing on tough material that is also great for helping them keep their teeth clean.
Another form or variation of a chew toy that is a good option for relieving a dog’s boredom is to stuff a Kong full of treats and leave it for them to try to extract all the goodies from. Sticky, but dog-friendly, foods mixed with usual kibble are great for making it difficult for dogs to get all the food out quickly. Pate or other foods that keep little biscuits stuck on the inside will drive your dog crazy as they try to remove the delicious smelling fodder from the innards. Additionally, it means that they have to use their brains again which will ultimately tire them out as well as keep them occupied and away from chewing expensive pairs of shoes.
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Have A Doggy Playdate
There is, perhaps, no better way to tire out a dog than to get him to play with other dogs on a doggy playdate. Other dogs will start with just as much energy as your dog will and so getting them to expend it together is a fantastic and effective way of making sure that when you are both at home, or even when your dog is left of his or her own, all they want to do is rest and recuperate.
Socialization is also key to a dog’s development and so a doggy playdate will not only relieve your dog’s boredom, but it will also mean that they are using their brains and learning. Games of chase along with a bit of rough and tumble are all important ways that dogs learn and so while you benefit from them being tired out, they also benefit from maturing.
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Do Some Training
A great way to mix a bit of mental stimulation along with some physical activity for the ultimate way to relieve your dog’s boredom is to do some training with them. This is a win-win situation for you both as it means that they are not only tired out by the end of your session, you also have a better behaved dog! Also, they will have spent quality time with you which makes them happier and far less anxious. Anxiety is another reason that dogs exhibit destructive behavior as it is a way of letting their tension out.
Training can be from the basic sit and stay commands to the more demanding roll over or other Crufts like actions, but your dog will love it all the same, especially if you reward them with their favourite treats and praise from yourself.
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Relieving Your Dog’s Boredom : The Bottom Line
Relieving your dog’s boredom is therefore easier than we sometimes initially think. All it takes is knowing your dog’s cues as well as entertaining them in a way that will interest them for long periods of time that then leaves them tired.
Ultimately, however, any activity that involves you and food will be a big success. Dogs love spending any and all time with their owners, so lap up their attention and be safe in the knowledge that it helps keep them out of trouble in future.