How does a bored dog feel? Very much like a bored human, says biologist Charlotte C. Burn. She also said that boredom happens when “arousal inputs are low, but arousal motivation is high.” In other words, boredom occurs when a dog is feeling energetic but is unable to find anything to get busy with.
When a canine pet gets bored, he can engage in various undesirable behaviours. He may bark excessively, indulge in digging or chew inappropriately (or all of the above). As such, you need to give him something to do so he is physically and mentally stimulated. A busy dog is a well-behaved dog. However, it can be difficult keeping him stimulated when you need to leave him at home sometimes. That will no longer be the case if you follow these 5 tips.
Wear your dog out before leaving home
If you are worried about leaving your dog home alone, then do not give them time to get lonely. Walk off his extra energy before you go. If you are pressed for time, make the short exercise session more intense. You can:
- Jog through your neighbourhood with your dog.
- Cycle or rollerblade alongside him using a different route.
- Put a small canine backpack on him to increase the physical challenge of a walk.
You can also engage in a bit of play time with him. You can, for example, play hide and seek with him. You can also hide a few treats in your house and have him look for them.
You can also engage his natural prey drive with a game. Have him chase a soft toy tied at the end of a long stick with a string, for example. You can put a treat in the toy or rub it with food so it has an interesting scent. Let the toy dangle in front of your pooch to catch his attention. Move the toy bait around slowly and stop at unpredictable intervals and positions. If you move it faster, your dog will work harder physically. The slow movement will engage your furry friend’s mental capacities more.
Provide interactive dog toys
A Kong toy stuffed with yummy treats will keep your pooch occupied in your absence. Put in a combination of wet and dry treats and then freeze the toy overnight. The slow process of thawing and getting the contents out of the toy will occupy your pet for hours.
If you can leave your dog in your garden, provide him with his very own digging box. Hide a couple of toys in it. He will have so much fun finding little surprises that he will probably forget that you are out. This is especially suitable for hunting dog breeds.
Leave the music or television on
You can play classical music for your dog whilst you are away. Studies have found that canine pets find this type of music soothing. Although you can change it up with other music, avoid playing rock or heavy metal songs as they can agitate him.
You can also tune into DogTV, which features programmes scientifically designed for dogs. The images of other dogs engaging in different activities will help provide company for him. The channel’s sounds are changed and colours muted to suit canine senses. Even the camera footage is taken at a lower angle to mimic a dog’s point of view.
You can also tune in to a channel that sparks interest in your dog. Observe him when you are watching TV and changing channels. Which one seems to draw and keep his attention? You can leave that particular channel on before you head out.
Leave your dog at a pet care facility
A doggy daycare allows your dog to meet new humans and canine friends. The new sounds, sights, and scents stimulate your dog’s mind and senses. Not only will he be sufficiently occupied, but he will also return home happy and wanting to sleep off his exertions.
Some pet care facilities do not take in dogs that have not been neutered or of a particular size. That is because such places typically allow their canine guests to interact with each other. Do some research to find one that is suitable for your dog.
Get help from a dog walker or a pet-sitter
The best way is to find another human your dog can interact with. Aside from a professional dog walker or pet-sitter, you can enlist the help of family members or friends. You can even see if you have a neighbour who is able to take on the task.
You do not need to keep buying new toys to avoid having a bored dog at home. You can improvise some, like the lure-type toy mentioned above. You can also rotate your dog’s current toy line-up. Gather all of his toys and give him one to amuse himself with for a couple of days. Then replace the toy with another one from the stash. Your dog’s favourite toy might be an old toy in your old sock. You will find that your dog will still be excited playing with an old one as he is with a brand new one.