We all know what happens when our dogs get bored, don’t we? They try to entertain themselves! Quite often they find ways to eleviate boredom in ways that we find destructive or certainly annoying.
Face it, dogs were bred for work in the past. Our pets now generally don’t have jobs, and so they go looking for something to do. They aren’t having to search out food, or look for shelter, or even come along with us when we go to work.
So, they look for a way to keep busy.
If you would like to be able to suggest to your pooch appropriate activities, rather than their creative ideas, take a look at some of the ideas below.
Play Interactive Games
Dogs are made to be physically and mentally active, no matter their age or breed type. Different breeds like different things, but there are a lot of similarities that all dogs share. They like to do things with you. Whether you are giving them simple games to do, such as fetch, or taking a walk with you, the interaction alone will help to use up their energy and reduce boredom.
Tug of war – When you play tug of war with your dog, you are not just wearing him out physically, but you are also getting him thinking, likely thinking about how to get that doggone tug toy away from you! You can make a tug toy out of just about anything, and old t-shirt, a rope, fleece tied with some knots. This game won’t build aggressiveness in your dog, just let him play in a way that he understands.
Games with the Nose – Your dog spends a great deal of his time using his nose, and it gives him a huge amount of information about the world. You can use this tendency to your advantage and entertain and challenge your dog. You can hide treats in various places and let your dog search thiem out. Lots of people find it very effective to start teaching their dog to search by placing one treat inside a hand, and then offering both closed hands to your dog and seeing if he can guess which hand the treat is in. Just use what you have, toys or treats or whatever. You will see your dog really engaging his mind and his senses.
Puzzle Toys to Entertain
When your dog is busy using his mind to get at treats, he is busy and happy. There are many interactive toys that don’t give easy access to his treats, but really encourage him to work at it. Your dog will feel like he is hunting for his food, and his problem-solving skills will be enhanced as he works on it. He will likely be too busy to get into things you would rather he did not. There are some toys that are also designed to be made more difficult as your dog masters the toy, one in particular is the Dog Twister. You can see how it works in the video below:
Training Obedience Skills!
When you train your dog, not only do you enage him mentally and get him thinking, but you also are teaching him skills that will make both of you happier and more confident. Your training sessions don’t need to be long, ten minutes a day will do it. The most recommended commands to train first are recall or “come”, which also is a wonderful safety skill for you and your dog to have. It is also good to work to teach your dog to pay attention to you, which generally means stopping what he is doing. It is a great excericise for impulse control. Then sit, stay, lay down, shake are very common basic commands.
Some people find clicker training to be very helpful as a training technique. When your dog performs whatever behavior you are looking for, you click the button and your dog knows that something was correct. You can do this throughout the day, on various activities that will give you a chance to really encourage behaviors you like. You can help your dog be well-mannered as well as engaging his brain and wearing him out.
How About Some Unique Tricks?
When you train your dog, you can go beyond just basic manners and all that make him a wonderful companion. You can go for some really creative ones, ones that are fun more than practical. Roll over is an entertaining one, as is shake. These are just for fun and are a great bonding time for you and your pooch. All training time really engages your dog’s brain and keeps him thinking. There are many ideas out there for fun “tricks” you can train your dog to do. Check out a book from the library, or just search the internet a little and you will find mor things than you ever dreamed of.
Perhaps Your Dog Needs a Real Job
Think about your dog’s breed. What was your dog bred for? Dogs have different tendencies and interests based on their breed. Think about what they do. Collies and border collies are very fast and active, and as such do well in things like agility. A Labrador Retriever will fetch until they simply are too exhausted to go on. These are things they love. You can use what interests them the most to think about what will keep them occupied.
Some dogs are trained to pick up their own toys and place them in a basket. Some pick up sticks in the yard. When you have your dog do things with you while you do household activities you are really engaging their brains and energy. Dogs can be trained to pull small carts, they can have things to do in the yard that they love. When your dog feels that he is helpful to you, he will be happier and more content in life. And he won’t have time to get bored.
Let Your Dog Do Things to Earn His Food
There are many kinds of treat dispensers out on the market and these will keep your dog busy getting his food out. You can also hide food in different places around the house, which will engage his brain in searching. Your dog was bred to do some work and he just isn’t sure of what to do otherwise. Help him out at food time!
Let Your Dog Spread His Social Wings
When your dog is a puppy, you will naturally want to socialize him so he will be comfortable. But as he gets older, it is a good idea too, but for more reasons now. Socialization will engage his brain and use up his energy, but it also will help him keep on track with how to behave with other people and other dogs. Many people find dog parks a great resource for meeting other like minded people and canines. The sights, sounds and activity will be good for your pooch. You can have play dates with even just your neighbors!
Spice Up a Stale Walking Routine
Do you walk your dog every day? I bet you tend to go the same path and route when you do, as we all tend to be creatures of habit. Your dog can use increased mental activity by a new path. Try going a different way, and see different things, go faster or slower. Your dog will dearly love investigating all the new smells that are in different areas.
If you find that you are gone a lot, and your dog gets bored while you are gone, consider a doggy daycare, or simply a dog walker. Someone who will come and let your dog out and break up his day. The neighbor might be perfectly happy to play with your pup during the day!
Chewing Activities are Always a Hit
Your dog has a primal need to chew on something. All dogs do, and they really don’t seem to outgrow it. There are health benefits as well, according to the ASPCA. When your dog is chewing, he will be cleaning his teeth, and also strengthening his jaw muscles. If you observe wild canines, you will see them chewing for hours each day. You will want to give your dog appropriate things to chew on, as he will be driven to chew anyway, and you certainly don’t want him chewing on things around the house that are not meant for him. Like your slippers, shoes, or books.
There are many excellent chew toys on the market, whether they be bones, rawhides or bully sticks. You will want to keep an eye on how the chew toys are holding up, as if they break into small pieces certainly that could pose a risk for choking.
Are you gone to work every day? Does your dog get bored? Well, there are amazing facilities that are fully ready to take your dog and the staff will keep him busy and happy. You can look around in your area, and likely you will find several options. Check out their schedules and see how they fit with yours, take a tour, get to meet the staff who would be interacting with your dog. Most places will offer references, but otherwise be sure to ask and get references before you take your dog to stay for a while. If you chat with your friends, likely some have used a doggy daycare near you and can tell you about their experiences.