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Bored Dog: Symptoms and Solutions

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Signs of a Bored Dog
Patryk Kosmider/Adobe Stock

Most dogs are bored, especially if they’re left home alone while their pet owners work all day. For the most part, dog boredom behavior resembles excessive behaviors because bored dogs are trying to expel excess energy.

Being bored is not a good thing for dogs, and most don’t appreciate it like humans. Think of a bored child; that’s how a bored dog feels. If your dog displays these bored dog behaviors, check out the following boredom busting solutions!

Signs of a Bored Dog

1. Excessive Barking

Easily, excessive barking is the most common behavior of bored dogs. Most pet owners assume dogs bark to protect their property, but that’s not exactly true. Bored dogs look for something to do, and barking is an easy outlet.

Excessive barking can happen anywhere, but it most commonly happens when dogs are left alone in backyards or inside their homes. Bored dogs will bark at anything—even at noises a half-mile away or falling leaves (this is quite common). Dogs left indoors usually sit on windowsills barking at anything and everything that passes by.

Many pet owners assume barking is a good thing; it gives their dogs something to do and keeps intruders out. But excessive barking teaches dogs to bark to make things go away. As a self-enforcing behavior, barking provides some type of satisfaction to a dog. Think about it this way: When a dog barks, it makes a squirrel run away, mail deliverer leave or jogger disappear.

Barking is a slippery slope, and it can become a habit rather quickly. Your dog will eventually learn to bark aggressively to make something scary go away, such as house guests or the veterinary staff, which isn’t a good thing.

2. Destructive Behavior

When dogs are bored, they’re looking for something to do. Your drapes, pillows, bedding, toilet paper, kitchen counters and trash cans are all fair game. So often, pet owners return home to a living room filled with pillow stuffing and an exhausted dog snoozing right next to it. If this happens, just pick up the pillow stuffing and vow to provide boredom busters to your dog daily.

Never get angry. It’s just confusing to your dog, and remember dogs do not feel guilt. Rather, dogs are freaked out by your angry behavior. Channel your dog’s pillow popping energy toward something else. 🙂

RELATED: Is Your Dog Confused?

Boredom Busters for Dogs

Daily physical exercise and mental enrichment are key boredom busters for dogs. Mental enrichment is just as important as physical exercise, so choose three boredom busters from the list below and provide daily. For maximum benefits, rotate between each boredom buster to keep your dog busy while you’re away.

10 Boredom Busters

  1. Feed all meals inside of a Kong (freeze to last longer). Toss food stuffed toys as you leave for work.
  2. Fill puzzle toys with high value treats.
  3. Walk your dog for 30 minutes. Hire a pet sitter if needed.
  4. Play fetch.
  5. Practice dog training skills (e.g. touch, down, sit, loose leash walking, come when called, etc.) once you return home from work.
  6. Grab a few boxes and toss treats inside one. Nose games are exhausting and fun and a great way for dogs to find their dinner.
  7. Once home, play tug for 20 minutes.
  8. Have fun with a flirt pole. A flirt pole mimics a running squirrel. This is a great activity for late afternoons.
  9. Before leaving for work, toss a handful of high value treats in the yard (or high pile rug). Your dog will have to hunt for each kibble.
  10. Take your dog on a car ride.

Give your dog something to do, so he doesn’t find his own boredom busters!

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