Do you remember being bored as a kid? Invariably, boredom led to mischief. You did things you knew you shouldn’t do just to help the time pass. Your dog feels much the same way.
If your dog doesn’t have entertainment, he or she will make their own entertainment – the problem is that these ‘entertainments’ include undesirable behaviours.
If Fluffy digs massive holes in your flower garden, barks like a maniac or resorts to chewing outdoor furniture while you’re out, chances are she’s bored. And it can get worse than that. Bored dogs may even become aggressive.
What can you do?
Providing lots of stimulation for your dog while you are at home can help. Play fetch or tug of war, go for walks and practice your obedience training lessons.
Start the day off with a walk or a run. A tired, happy pet is far less likely to get into mischief while you’re out. Dogs love obedience training and just one or two sessions a week isn’t going to help them to learn quickly.
You can provide extra mental stimulation by practicing obedience lessons often – and your dog will love the extra attention.
But although these activities help, an active dog will soon get bored while you’re not around.
Dog behaviour experts say that providing entertainment while you’re out isn’t difficult. Interactive toys that periodically reward your dog can provide hours of fun. The Foobler is an advanced interactive toy that covers all the elements that make for an entertaining dog toy:
- It has movement: Your dog can nose it around all over the garden.
- It makes a sound: At treat time, a bell goes off to tell your dog something good is about to happen.
- It provides rewards: Food rewards are a natural favourite with dogs.
Meals once a day – an outdated idea?
Most of us have been told that dogs should be fed once or at most twice a day. But if one considers how dogs would have lived in the wild, it’s easy to see that this is an unnatural situation. You can turn your dog’s instinct for foraging for food to your advantage.
Give your pet a ‘free’ meal in the morning, and let him believe he’s ‘working’ for the rest of his food. A Foobler allows you to divide up the day’s food into portions that become available based on the timer settings you select.
Meanwhile, your dog thinks that by playing with his toy, he’s going to get a food reward. Dogs love having a job to do, and the Foobler gives them one. It’s the perfect boredom buster!
Other boredom busters to try
Ideally, you shouldn’t leave your dog alone for more than four to six hours. This can present a problem if you have a full workday and no-one in your family is home. Consider finding a reliable pet-sitter who can drop in during the day or even take your dog for a walk.
Getting a second dog can help, but if your pet is already showing symptoms of boredom, he might teach the new dog the same behaviours. And a new puppy will require a careful introduction into your family life. Think things through before getting an extra puppy.
Things dogs love include nose games, chasing balls and digging. While digging can be destructive, you can teach your dog to do his digging in a specific area of your yard. You can even give him something to dig for by burying a toy there before you go out.
Nose games for dogs range from finding a hidden treat to nosing a ball around the garden – if that ball gives them a treat into the bargain – they’re thrilled.
Chewy toys are great too, but be cautious: Dogs love to chew, but do be careful about the toys you choose. For example, if your dog is inclined to swallow chewy toys such as rawhide bones, they’re a definite no-no. And dogs can damage their teeth with excessive chewing.
Dogs are sociable by nature
Dogs are sociable creatures, and the times you spend with them are the high-point of their day.
Although you need to maintain discipline, it’s important to remember that your dog needs lots of interaction when you are at home. You shouldn’t give attention on demand, or you might end up with a troublesome problem. But you should have times when your dog is the centre of attention.
You’ll have lots of fun with your pet, and when you’re not home, your pooch won’t feel as needy and will be more receptive to the diversions you offer.