Dogs, like humans, can easily get bored if they don’t have enough mental stimulation to keep them occupied. Dog boredom usually results in trouble. That’s when dogs tend to do destructive or annoying things. They chew furniture, bark excessively, or find other unwanted ways to be entertained.
For most people, it isn’t practical or possible to spend every minute of every day ensuring that your dog gets enough mental stimulation. But he or she shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time either. Try to find a routine that works for everyone. Minimize dog boredom and keep your dog – and you – happy for most of the time.
“…bred mainly to fit in with us humans…”
Modern day dogs are quite different from their ancestors, the wolves. Today’s dogs have been bred mainly to fit in with us humans as much as possible. However, unless you’re are a sheep farmer who employs a dog to round up sheep, most dogs don’t have a job or anything specific they are supposed to do each day.
This is fine for the dog. He or she gets free food, a kennel or a comfy mat to lie on, and a nice warm place to sleep. They also have kind humans who tell them they are good boys or good girls, and they get taken for healthy, exercising walks each day. There’s nothing wrong with this typical routine. But it does leave long gaps in between where any dog boredom might develop.
What can you do about it? Well, quite a lot, actually. And it doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time either. If there are other family members who can also help, then it all gets a lot easier. It also gets much more interesting and boredom-relieving for your dog, and that’s all that really matters, after all.
Here then are 5 simple ways to relieve your doggie boredom woes:
1 – Change your daily walk route
There’s a lot to be said for finding the perfect walk for you and your dog. But if you always take that route, guess what – it soon gets boring, for your dog at least. Try to identify five or six suitable routes for doggie walks. Try more if possible. Mix them up so your dog will have no idea where you might be taking him or her on any given day.
It probably isn’t practical to find a brand new walk that you’ve never done together before for every day, but if you regularly cycle through five or six different walk routes, mixing them up occasionally, your dog stays much more interested and involved each day.
Of course, you don’t want to just walk on and on for 30 minutes or so. Your dog likes to explore the things he or she comes across. Dogs see things, just like you or I do. They also smell things, and they are much better at smelling things than you will ever be. They have a much stronger developed sense of smell than humans do.
You should let your dog stop to sniff things along your daily walk route. He or she may sniff the same spot today as they sniffed yesterday, but for all you know it might be a different smell from yesterday’s one, so let the sniffing proceed. This is an important ritual that offers great mental stimulation for all dogs. This is partly how they ‘see’ their world. It’s important that they have the chance to do so. It will definitely prevent dog boredom!
2 – Incorporate some simple training into your everyday routine
Obedience training makes a dog focus. This adds mental stimulation and avoids boredom. You don’t have to go over the top here. Even just 10 minutes spent each day teaching your dog something useful, such as the basic commands of sit, stay, lie down, come, will provide a lot of mental energy for your dog.
Your dog is usually eager to please, and if you add a lot of praise when he or she gets it right, the feedback encourages your dog to do even better. Having a dog that answers to your call is also very useful, of course.
Once your dog has mastered the basic commands, move on to something more complex and demanding. You can have several training sessions a day if you have the time to do so. Keep each session reasonably short, at least 10 minutes, but no longer than say, 30 minutes.
3 – Teach your dog some simple chores to do
No, your dog will probably never be very good at making the morning coffee. But you can teach him or her to do some simple things. They might not be particularly helpful things, but it will give your dog a sense of involvement. Dogs love to please, after all.
Your dog could easily be taught to fill the laundry basket, for example. The clothes are going to be washed anyway, so having your dog pick things up in a doggie way won’t really matter. Of course, you will need to differentiate between dirty clothes and clean clothes for your dog. Just getting him or her involved is what really matters.
Do you have an open fire, perhaps in your sitting room? Gathering up firewood or kindling in the woods is a great activity that helps to avoid dog boredom. Your dog will quickly take to it.
If you have a lot of dog toys that your dog loves to play with, teach your dog to tidy up afterward. He or she will quickly learn how to gather up all the toys and place them into a container. The activity will focus the mind and provide excellent mental stimulation.
4 – Hire a dog walker if your dog has to spend long periods of time alone
Dog walkers do just that – they will take your dog out for a walk if you are unable to, for whatever reason. You don’t have to do this every day, but perhaps doing it occasionally will help to break the dog boredom and monotony your dog has to endure while alone.
If you cannot afford to regularly hire a dog walker, consider finding a friend or relative to do it for you. Perhaps you could work out a deal between you both so that you can do something to repay the favor later.
5 – Find the time every day to give your dog some special attention
This doesn’t have to take more than 10 minutes a day, but it can make a world of difference for your dog. Dogs love to be fussed over. They know only too well when someone is being extra nice to them. It only takes a belly rub, a scratching behind the ears, or any kind of grooming session to make the bond between you and your dog even stronger.
All dogs are social animals, just like us humans, in fact. They love getting special attention from their owners, and they will give back just as much in their own way too. Just 10 minutes a day can make a world of difference. If you have the time, pencil in some special attention several times a day. Your dog will love you all the more, and dog boredom will soon become a thing of the past.