Growing up, we used to hear “if you’re bored, you’re boring,” and we had to keep a list of things that we enjoyed in the event we declared there was NOTHING to do. This stopped the flailing on the floor, complaining about our sad, sorry lives, or getting into things that weren’t intended for us. We couldn’t nag or fuss, we didn’t run amuck all over the house, leaving a trail of chaos in our wake. Having planned tasks ready in the wings for that boredom epidemic really helped. Because, let’s face it – kids can be pains in the neck when they’re bored. But, heck, so can adults. Have you ever gotten stuck in the loop of “what do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” with a partner, friend, or spouse? #boring No thanks. The difference is that when adults get bored, we can choose to phone a friend, go outside, watch a show, do a chore, and, the fan-favorite, take to the mighty distraction/occupying/procrastination powers of the Internet.
Dogs are much more like children, however, they need help occupying their time and expelling excess energy. If their energy isn’t being used up appropriately, it will burn up in a bad way. Like children, they can and will get into everything once deemed off limits -, they will complain at you repeatedly, nagging you to entertain them. Or, they might make themselves busy and eat all the food you have for them, tucked away. And we know that could add up to be an expensive, unhealthy bummer. We know you don’t want to be barked at, or worse, nipped at, by a dog who isn’t “bad,” but just bored, so make sure you know the signs, and have a plan, to help your dog combat boredom.
Know The Signs
#1 – Idle Paws
There is one main common tell among bored dogs: idle paws get into everything. If your dog hasn’t pilfered through your closet in ages, and suddenly if tearing through it, that could be a sign of boredom. Same goes for digging through the trash or over-digging in the yard. [Note: It could also be a sign of anxiety, so you might want to consult your family vet if this behavior begins suddenly and is abnormal.]
#2 – Barking Bully
The human child version of this is “Mom. Mommy. Mom. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mom! Mommy!!” or “Daddddddddddddddy” ether shouted sadly from another room, or right up in your face. Dogs do it, too. They want your attention and if your dog is demanding you interact with them through continuous barking, it’s a literal cry for help.
#3 – Sad Shadow
If your dog hasn’t left your side, and is constantly right where you need or want to be, they are signalling that they need you, and need some stimulus. If you don’t want to trip over a dog who can’t seem to be anywhere but your feet, you gotta help them expel some of that energy.
How to Help A Bored Dog
#1 – Run It Out
The best thing you can do for your dog if they appear bored is to take them outside for fresh air and activity. Especially if they are going to be home all day while you’re at work, you need to run them before they have the house to themselves for hours. A nice long (45 minutes, at least) walk is great, and if you’re shorter on time head to a dog park or open space where you can throw a ball or frisbee and ensure your dog gets to sprint. A solid workout in the morning will help your dog want to rest during the day. The morning isn’t going to happen, schedule a walker to take your dog out during the day.
#2 – Doggy Daycare
Another great option is to send your pup out for a day with pals. The stimulus of playing with other dogs, being in a new setting, having new humans to engage with can work wonders for a bored dog. A quick online search can help you find local options.
#3 – Make Feeding Fun
Have you seen those food dispenser-puzzle gadgets at the store or online? Why not put some Ya Doggie kibble in one of those and let your dog toil away at it for a while. Doggie food-focsed puzzles are a hit with many pups we know.
#4 – Update Your Toys
Again, dogs are like kids – and sometimes it helps to swap out toys to keep them engaged. We’re not saying to need to keep buying new toys all the time, but you could add some to your collection over time, and take away a few of the older toys, saving those for another day. We know a family that keeps a few toys on hand, just for days when the dog will be solo in the home for longer than normal. These special toys come out on those days, and then return to storage until the next time they’re needed.
#5 – Get Another Dog
Okay so we’re half-joking, here. But dogs love company – and if you one have one, you might consider getting them a buddy so they can play together.
Do you have any tips and tricks to keep your pal’s boredom at bay? Tell us your genius ways in the comments below! Also, we need to note that if you’re really struggling to solve for boredom, please consult your family’s vet for even more ideas.