How To Know If Your Dog Is Bored
As dog owners, we often find ourselves making excuses or assigning blame for our fur baby’s undesirable behavior. Fido chews your house to pieces while you’re at work and you assume that it is separation anxiety, or Rocky paces and barks excessively leaving you convinced that your neighbors are conspiring against you with dog whistles. While conniving neighbors and separation anxiety are real concerns, you may want to consider the alternative possibility that Fido and Rocky are bored to tears and don’t know how else to tell you.
Obviously, your canine companion is brilliant and knows the name of his favorite toy or when you’re upset and need a snuggle; but even in truly exceptional cases, no matter how many words or commands your dog knows, they aren’t able to tell us what they need. Our most reliable tool for understanding how our dogs are feeling is to observe their behavior. If your four-legged friend is exhibiting any of the following behaviors, it may be time to find him a hobby.
7 Sure Signs Your Dog Is Bored
He's Acting Like Your Furry Shadow
To your dog, you're the answer for everything. When he's unsure what to do with himself, your pooch will seek you out, hoping that you'll solve the problem. Your dog may follow you from room to room and keep his eye on you no matter what you're doing. He may even be under your feet so much that you end up tripping over him or bumping into him frequently. Some dogs will carry a favorite toy as they follow their owners.
She's Constantly Serenading You
When she's feeling bored, your dog will do what she can to get your attention and that often means making noise. She may bark incessantly or bark when you look at her as a way of trying to say she wants to play. Some dogs may whine or whimper when they are bored. Others may make a sort of growling sound, particularly if they are following their masters or becoming aggressive to try and get attention.
He's Jumping Up on Humans
Even dogs that know not to jump up on family members and visitors may suddenly start barreling down everyone they see when they are bored. This behavior may seem aggressive in some cases, but it's really just a dog's way of saying "Hey! Pay attention to me!"
She's Breaking the Rules
Just like a child might act out to get Mom or Dad's attention, a bored dog may break rules and exhibit bad behaviors when she feels bored. If you have trained your dog not to get on the furniture, dig in the trash or paw at the door and she suddenly seems to forget her lessons, boredom may be the cause of the problem. This is especially true if she seems to be looking at you for your reaction as she misbehaves.
He's Being Destructive
If you come home to find your house in shambles, your dog may have been bored during the day. A dog that is lacking in stimulation and in need of exercise may let out his energy running through the house and knocking things over accidentally. Pooches that have nothing to occupy them may also chew furniture and items around the house, dig in plants or even find a way to get into food in the pantry or on the counter.
She's Engaging in Repetitive Behaviors
A bored dog may exhibit odd, repetitive behaviors as she tries to entertain herself. You may see her running in circles or chasing her tail or pawing over and over at something. Some dogs even chew on their paws when they don't have anything else to do. In some cases, repetitive behaviors may be more extreme versions of something that your dog does other times. For example, she might furiously dig a hole in the yard and be reluctant to stop or compulsively chew on a bone or toy.
He's Being Mopey
Sometimes, a bored dog might just seem sad. He may lie down and put his chin on the floor, looking up at you piteously, or sit dejectedly alone. Mopey dogs may stay still or fidget, moving from position to position as they try to find something to do.
Interpreting Dog Behavior
While all of the above behaviors can be signs of boredom in dogs, it's important to understand that they may have other causes as well. Anxiety and fear can cause many of the same problems, so it can sometimes be difficult to tell just what's plaguing a pooch.
If you're noticing any of the symptoms of boredom, think about what's going on in your home. Has there been a recent change around the house or could weather or another issue have caused your dog to feel stressed? Are the symptoms occurring even after you have spent plenty of time with your pet and made changes to try and address boredom?
In some cases, it may take some time to figure out if what you're seeing is boredom or another type of problem. Should you find yourself really stumped, you can talk to your vet for advice. A health problem could also be responsible for changes in behavior, making it a good idea to get your dog checked out if the problems persist.
What to Do About Boredom in Dogs
The good news is that in most cases boredom with dogs can be dealt with by:
- Making Time For Him Every Day. You can't entertain your dog 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, but you should make sure to spend some time with him on a daily basis. Dogs are social creatures and long for company. If you work long hours or have to travel for work, have someone stop in and check on him to break up the long periods of time alone.
- Get Her More Exercise. All dogs need regular physical activity to stay healthy, but some breeds need more exercise than others. Make sure your dog is getting enough time to run and play to burn off energy.
- Play Before You Leave. If at all possible, try to play with your dog or take him for a walk before you leave for work or leave the house for a long period of time. Entertaining your dog before you go will likely tire him out, so he'll be more likely to sleep and less prone to being bored while you're gone.
- Make Sure She Has Safe Toys. Giving your dog access to safe toys can help to combat boredom throughout the day. Mix things up by rotating the toys that you give her access to.
By paying attention to your pet's needs, you can combat canine boredom and have a happier dog. Stay alert for the signs and take action when they start.
At the end of the day, no one knows your pet like you do, except maybe your vet - you may want to check with your vet if your dog starts exhibiting unusual behavior. Once sure that your pet is in good health, you can engage them in activities to use up their excess energy. Physical exertion is great for your dog, but puzzle toys and learning tricks that challenge them mentally are also great exercises for your pooch.