You may be wondering, do dogs get bored? The answer is YES! Without proper play, stimulation and exercise, dogs can easily become bored, especially the higher energy working breeds like border collies.
Dogs that are bored often show signs or find destructive ways to entertain themselves. When our golden lab Cookie was bored inside in winter, she would chew on the basement wall and stairs and sofa. When Kilo gets bored, and wants to play, he comes and paws at me or jumps on me or nips and whines. If home alone, he sometimes empties the recycling all over the floor or climbs like a ninja or opens doors and gets into “food” he shouldn’t or digs up houseplants or chews slippers. My friend Marcy’s dog set up his own toilet paper challenge when she wasn’t looking. Dogs of all ages and sizes need physical and mental stimulation. They need entertainment and play, several times a day.
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Is your Dog Bored? Common Signs of Boredom to look for:
- excessive chewing, including furniture or walls or doors or stairs
- barking, whining
- jumping up, scratching and pawing
- getting into garbage or things they shouldn’t
- other destructive or unwanted behaviors.
If we don’t play with them and keep them physically and mentally simulated or busy, dogs may invent their own fun and games or get distressed and behave “badly”.
Canine behaviour expert Dr Emily Blackwell at Bristol University did a study with 4,000 dog owners and discovered that the less they played with their pets, the more likely the dogs were to suffer from one or more of 22 behavioural problems. These behaviors include anxiety, aggression, pulling on the lead, whining, and not coming when called.
43% of the dog owners reported that fetch is their dogs favorite game followed by chase, tugging at toys, and wrestling. According to the survey, tennis balls were the dogs’ favorite toys followed by soft squeaky toys, rubber balls, and rope toys.
Kilo the pug does not like bring to retrieve things and give them to me, but he really loves to chase and grab the toys I throw, then tease me with them. He also loves playing tug, tickle/wrestling, chase/football and go find, especially with treats. He also loves doing tricks as we treat them like games. He is not a fan of tennis balls but he loves his soft plush soccer ball and other plush toys, and even empty plastic water bottles. He will go to his toy basket alone and play and chew for a little while but he way prefers it if I seem interested in the toy too.
See this post of Top 10 awesome indoor games to play with your dog for inspiration.
Humans and dogs are two of the few species of mammals that continue to play well into adulthood so playing with your dog can be really fun, as well as healthy for both of you. Playing games with your dog is not only a way to keep them physically fit it’s also mentally stimulating and can relieve boredom.
Here are some simple ideas on how to increase play time, avoid boredom and improve your bond with your dog.
Quick and Easy Ways to Relieve Dog Boredom
Play Fetch, esecially if you have a working breed.
Play Tug and throw in “drop it” training
Play “Fighty Face” and wrestle/tickle/cuddles – Kilo loves playing this with my husband after work. He has learned to be gentle with his mouth or the game stops.
Dance together- Kilo is learning to weave with me and loves dancing around on his hind legs.
Play with toys together– Kilo and I play football with his plush or plastic bottles and he scores goals when he gets to the sofas at each end of the house.
Do some puzzles and hidden treat games– you can make your own with upside down cups or tennis balls in a cupcake pan.
Kilo has several puzzles plus he loves his BUSTER ActivityMat By Kruuse that comes with 3 levels of difficulty to keep your dog challenged (we received it as a gift at Global Pet Expo- See The Full Review HERE.)
Play disc if you have the space and your dogs enjoys (Kilo is not interested but I know other dogs that LOVE disc)
Go for a walk or a run (where allowed with social distancing).
Stuff a Kong and freeze it- Kilo loves chewing and sucking on that for ages.
Work for part of meals. Kilo does a trick or plays go find for some of his kibble.
Bully Stick Chews– Kilo really enjoys playing go find for a Bullwrinkles Bully Stick and then relaxes and chews.
Cook homemade dog treats together with tricks like shut cupboard doors, clean dishes. See our easy Dog Licks Dog Cookie treat recipe here.
Do Yoga or Doga classes together online
Do your own version of the toilet paper challenge or mini agility inside the house or in the garden if you are lucky enough to have one.
Do obedience training and learn some new tricks – check out our trick training posts plus some of Kilo’s tricks in the video.
I like Larry Kay’s big book of tricks for the best dog ever – see review here.
We are currently working on roll over, take a bow, play dead, look shy, boing boing, weaving, dancing and a few others. We do 5 minutes at a time at least twice a day.
You can buy the book through my Amazon Affiliate Link here:
The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever: A Step-by-Step Guide to 118 Amazing Tricks and Stunts
Listen to music or watch funny dog videos or DOG TV- apparently certain music and TV can help relieve anxiety or boredom for some dogs.
You can also check out this post on Ways to Get Active Indoors With Your Dog
Additional Joke Boredom Busters from The Backseat Barkers:
Do zoom cocktails with friends.
Play video games together.
Do those chores you’ve been putting off together.
Play more with your dog and keep them healthy, happy and out of trouble
Plus Dog Lovers, if you are feeling down or bored – check out our ideas for keeping busy here.
Ruth Epstein says
I think Layla is bored lately although i am giving her more attention, taking her for walks, her doggy friends are visiting again but she is not interested and hopefully soon public transport will be safe and we will be able to ride the buses again which she loves. This lock down has not made our life easy and as for toys she is just not interested. I have tried and try each evening with her.
Isn’t it amazing how an inexpensive toy like the tennis ball is so many dogs’ favorite? Plus they are hard to destroy which makes it one of my favorite dog toys too. Bella loves her tennis ball so much that she will sleep with it tucked under her chin so no one can take it from her. We have indoor and outdoor tennis balls so we can play fetch with her anytime she wants.
Angela Schneider says
I know exactly when Bella is bored. She either gets in my face and yells at me to do something or she tucks her face into her fur and gives me the most soulful look. Either way, she gets me to move.
Excellent advice – as usual. My little guy needed to walk and walk when he was younger and still does – but now that he has dimension he walks and walks in circles so our previously useless small backyard had become very useful.
Talent Hounds says
Ooh I didn’t realize Victor has dimentia now. We just have a small deck and it is perfect for Kilo too. How old is Victor?
Rebecca Sanchez says
We love puzzles in hidden food games for doggies with the bored mind. We have an experience oddly enough at a little 5 pound Chihuahua, it’s amazing how much damage a little 5 pound dog can do. That’s when we turn to the hidden dog food games!
It’s understandable that dogs would become destructive when bored. Just look at how humans have reacted to boredom over the course of the Covid-19 outbreak. We always look for something to do, even if it is not the best thing to do. I’ve gone through several laser pointers with my kitties over the last few weeks. Give Kilo a good tickle war for me!
We both wrote about bored pets this week 🙂 A lot of the solutions are the same too. Like you said – look at how we humans are reacting to the quarantine. The pets need more stimulation, games and activities to perk them up out of their boredom (so they stop wrecking the house)
I don’t think my dogs are bored very often. We have 4 people at home, so there is always someone around to play with them.
Oops, pushed enter too soon! I know that my dogs would love a lot of these activities, especially anything that involves food!
We have two VERY active dogs and are very familiar with fighting off the boredom blues! We do a lot of the things you’ve suggested above, and try to change it up to keep our pups’ minds stimulated. Great suggestions!
The Dash Kitten Crew says
This needs to be tattooed on the forehead of the people across the back from us. They have a dog that gets shut in a ‘fun’ that abuts our property and it gets bored, So it barks and barks, and barks.
You really need to make this a pdf for people to print off and stick to their fridge, there are so many things a dog can do with its family or its owner – why don’t people try just one or two each week and their dog will lead a richer and fuller life full of fun and excitement.
Talent Hounds says
What a good idea as always thanks!
Jana Rade says
Cookie is never bored. But presently very annoyed because the black fly season is messing with her hunting adventures.
Dear Dog Lovers,
we are “Grateful Cat”, a little Band from Berlin. We have a new song called “Puppy School Dropout” and we figured, that we send it out to some people who really work in that business. We hope you like it.
If you think that some of your clients or friends might like it too, feel free to share it with them, post it somewhere or use it for whatever you think it works for.
Maybe it brings joy to some people and maybe we have one or two new listeners in different countries all over the world. We will see what happens …
Thanks for your time, stay healthy.
Gwendolin and Franky