With lockdown restrictions easing gradually, most of you are back to work. But as you go about the hustle and bustle of your daily life, you may often need to leave your dog at home throughout the day. In your absence, your dog does not receive any attention or activity, which often results in boredom. Boredom in dogs is a real phenomenon.
As University of London biologist Charlotte C.Burn noted in a study republished in Animal Behavior, “Boredom is not the trivial annoyance it is sometimes dismissed as. Animal boredom is biologically plausible: animals avoid monotony and seek stimulation.” Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help alleviate boredom in dogs. Below, we’ve provided you with five of the best ways to do so.
Get Plenty Of Exercise
When you come home from a long day of work, it’s tempting to take your pet out for a quick walk and call it a night. However, no matter how tired you are or how long of a day you’ve had, your dog needs attention and exercise. A lack of activity can quickly lead to obesity, as obesity in dogs and boredom are inherently linked. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, nearly 55 percent of dogs in America are either obese or overweight.
One of the best ways to stimulate your pets is to introduce them to a new environment. For instance, instead of going for a walk down the same neighborhood street, get in the car and drive to a local park. Many researchers believe that the car ride alone provides the dog with mental stimulation and can help stave off boredom. Additionally, if you and your dog are in good enough shape, try biking or running instead of casual walks. This helps keep your dog focused.
Another excellent way to help relieve your dog’s boredom is by introducing them to food puzzles. Dogs become bored when they are stuck in their routine. Think about how you currently feed your dog. You likely come home from work and around 6 PM, you put the same food in the same bowl every night. To alleviate the boredom that comes with being cooped up in the house all day, make feeding a task instead of something that’s assumed. Try:
• Hiding food under different bowls
• Hide treats outside in your yard
• Any other way that requires your dog to use its brain and nose
Many toy manufacturers make puzzles designed explicitly for a dog’s food. Some of these toys involve using various bowls or balls. Not only do the dogs have to figure out which compartment contains the food, but they also must figure out how to then open the compartment. This may not work for all dogs, as some will lose interest or grow frustrated. However, if you find that your dog is a bit crafty or creative, this could be a useful option to help keep them entertained.
Socialize With Other Dogs
Dogs who interact with the outside world tend to be more entertained and therefore less bored. This could also be worthwhile during training. Introducing your dog to others can allow them to feel more comfortable in settings with other humans and with other animals. Ideally, you’d begin introducing your pet to other animals when you first bring them home as a puppy. Doing this as a puppy reduces the likelihood of anxiety and boredom as an adult.
If you’ve adopted an older dog and want them to socialize with others, you should introduce them to other environments gradually. For instance, maybe start by trying by having a friend bring their dog to your home for a play-date.
The fact that this occurs in your home will allow your dog to feel comfortable while becoming acclimated with other animals. If this goes well, you can slowly begin to introduce your dog to the outside world, perhaps doing things like going to a local dog park.
Take Advantage Of Your Dog’s Senses
Many dogs have heightened senses and love to be put to “work.” For instance, retrievers love to chase after things. Hound dogs love following a scent. If you have a dog that’s a hunting or herding breed, you may want to consider “putting them to work” to keep them active and to help prevent boredom from setting in.
These dogs often have a high amount of pent-up energy. Not providing them with the chance to release it could cause the dog to turn destructive. Some of how you can stimulate the sense of these dogs are by:
• Providing nose work, where dogs identify various scents in the home
• Practicing agility work and sprinting
• Teaching your dog new tricks
Enroll Your Dog In A Class
If you can commit to the time required to do so, enrolling your dog in a class with a local trainer is an excellent way to help prevent boredom. Many trainers offer classes that extend far beyond puppy training. For instance, if your hunting dog excels at nose work in the home, you could perhaps consider enrolling them in a class designed explicitly for scent identification. Similarly, there are classes for agility and obedience training as well.
These classes are not babysitting classes. They are high-intensity and require a lot of mental focus from your dog. They do take place in the presence of other animals, which further encourages your dog to focus on the task at hand. These classes can leave your dog feeling stimulated both mentally and physically. They can also provide your pet with a sense of purpose and accomplishment, which helps them feel less bored.
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