Recent studies found that boredom in canines is very real, and it's more dangerous than one might assume. Research demonstrated the negative effects of boredom on dog's mental health, and how pets who aren't mentally stimulated will go through several stages starting with boredom, leading into apathy, then stress and depression.
According to Charlotte C. Burn, a biologist at The Royal Veterinary College, dogs and other animals can easily feel bored in the exact same way and for similar reasons that humans do. Dogs often express boredom with unwanted and irritating behavior, like barking, aggression, chewing, and whining. However, relieving boredom in dogs is not difficult and pet owners have many ways to do this.
1. More Playtime with the Dog
To relieve boredom in dogs you need to entertainment them, and the most effective way to do that is to spend time playing together. Games like fetch or tug of war are fun for both of you and they will keep your dog in good shape. Keep switching the games up to ensure your pooch still has interest in them.
Mentally stimulating games are a great choice because they will keep your dog excited for a longer time and flex his brain muscles. Try interactive dog toys, games and puzzle games. Play hide and seek. Play tag. Blow bubbles for your dog to chase. Be creative and think of a new game to make it more interesting for the Fido.
2. Buy New Toys or Rotate Old Ones
Dogs can become bored with their toys after a while, according to some studies. You'll need to buy new dog toys for your pooch occasionally, and keep rotating them – switch to a different toy every week, and bring the old toy back in a few months. There are plenty of cheap dog toys that won't cost an arm and a leg, but if it still gets too expensive, try making your own DIY dog toys.
Teaching your dog the names of his toys is another fantastic way to keep him mentally stimulated. Simply assign a “command/name” to each of his toys, and when playing, ask your pet to take and bring a specific toy.
3. Longer Walks and New Paths
Walking your dog more often or taking him on longer walks will work wonders in eliminating boredom. Experts explain how doggy walks provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation.
Take your dog on a new route to make it more stimulating and let your dog explore along the way. Take a hike when you have more free time and visit multiple locations. Let him off the leash and let the dog run free, but make sure that you are in a place where it is safe to do so.
4. Consistent Training Sessions
Regular training sessions are a great way to improve the bond with your dog, to keep him entertained and alleviating boredom. Even though there are different kinds of dog training methods and approaches, like agility, obedience and tricks, they are all good for the Fido. Try mixing it up and do a bit of everything. Use your time more efficiently and train your pooch even when you are on a walk, especially obedience commands.
5. Give Your Dog a Job
Your dog can benefit from helping you with some of your chores, not to mention how hilarious it is to have a video of your pet loading laundry baskets or picking up his toys and cleaning his room. Teach your dog to fetch something from the fridge for you or to turn the lights on and off.
6. Make Him Work for Food
Make feeding time mentally stimulating for your pooch with interactive puzzle feeders, food dispensing toys and bowls that slow down eating. This will force the dog to figure out how to get the food out. Do nose work with your dog and make him sniff for his food. Scent-tracking will keep him busy and proud of himself when he finds the food, doing wonders for his confidence and for relieving boredom.
7. Keep Him Entertained when You Are Away
Take him on a walk before you leave or consider hiring a professional dog walker or a sitter if you will be out for a long time. Give your dog a chew toy. Leave the radio or TV on so your dog doesn’t feel alone. There are also special CDs with soothing music for dogs you can purchase, and studies showed this to be effective for separation anxiety.
8. Help Him Relax Properly
Most dogs are able to relax naturally, but others might need a bit of help. Learn how to massage your dog, especially if you have an older pet or one with arthritis. Massages can relieve pain from joints, reduce anxiety and stress and improve circulation. They also help you strengthen your bond with your pooch and keep your dog entertained.
Groom your pooch regularly. Bathe your dog, brush his coat and teeth and trim his nails, or take him to a professional groomer from time to time. Give your dog belly rubs and pet him often to help him relax and prevent boredom.
9. Buy a Doggie Pool
Most dogs enjoy water, so get a wading dog pool for your pooch to splash around in. Put some toys in the pool to make it even more interesting for the pet. Of course, if you can take your dog to the beach or to a lake, do it as often as you can.
Not only will swimming promote his physical and mental health (provided you actually get a proper pool; not the one like on the right), but there are other benefits to this – some canine experts even suggest to replace regular dog walks with swimming in dog pools.
10. Socialize Your Dog
Probably the most effective way to relieve boredom in dogs is to give your pet an opportunity to socialize – take him to new places where he will meet new people and other dogs. Arrange play dates or take him to a dog park.
You can also take your pet to doggy daycare. If your dog has to be alone a lot, taking him to a daycare is a great way to keep him entertained and mentally stimulated. He will interact with other dogs and humans, so make sure that your dog is not anxious around other people or dogs. If he is, doggy daycare might not be a good choice for him.
Enroll your pooch in a class. Teaching your dog new skills is a great way to stimulate your dog, but it can even be better with a professional. Group classes can also be fun. You can find classes near you by talking with your vet or your local humane society. Your vet can also suggest the best type of class for your dog.