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. Poppy chews your house to pieces while you’re at work, and you assume that it is separation anxiety or Bella 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 Poppy and Bella are bored to tears and don’t know how else to tell you.

Your canine companion is brilliant and knows the name of her favorite toy or when you’re upset and need a snuggle. Still, 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.

Seven Signs Your Dog Is Bored

A bored chocolate lab puppy

1. She's Acting Like Your Furry Shadow

To your dog, you're the answer to everything. When your dog is unsure what to do with herself, your pup will seek you out, hoping that you'll solve the problem. Your dog may follow you from room to room and keep its eye on you no matter what you're doing.

She may even be under your feet so much that you end up tripping over her. Some dogs will carry a favorite toy as they follow their owners around the house.

2. She's Constantly Serenading You

When she's feeling bored, your dog will do what she can to get your attention, which 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.

3. She'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 bored. This behavior may seem aggressive in some cases, but it's just a dog's way of saying, "Hey! Pay attention to me!"

4. She's Breaking the Rules

Just like a child might act out to get Mom or Dad's attention, a bored dog may break the rules and exhibit destructive 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 bad behavior is especially true if she looks at you for your reaction as she misbehaves.

Bored dog and a destroyed teddy bear at home

5. She’s Destructive

If you come home to find your house in shambles, your dog may have been bored during the day. A dog lacking in stimulation and need of exercise may let out its energy running through the house and knocking things over accidentally.

Canines that have nothing to occupy them may also chew furniture and items around the home, dig in plants or even find a way to get into food in the pantry or on the counter.

6. 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.

7. She’s Mopey

Sometimes, a bored dog might just seem sad. Your dog may lie down and put its 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

Sad Dog waiting home alone

While all of the above behaviors can be signs of boredom in dogs, it's essential to understand that they may have other causes. Anxiety and fear can cause many of the same problems, so it can sometimes be difficult to tell just what's plaguing a sweet pea.

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 is 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 stumped, you can talk to your vet for advice. A health problem could also be responsible for behavior changes, making it a good idea to get your dog checked out if the problems persist.

What to Do About Boredom in Dogs

Dog playing with toy

The good news is that in most cases, boredom with dogs can be dealt with by:

Making Time For Her Every Day

You can't entertain your dog 24 hours per day, seven days per week, but you should make sure to spend some time with her daily. 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 her to break up the long periods 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 possible, try to play with your dog or take her for a walk before you leave for work or leave the house for a long time. Entertaining your dog before you go will likely tire her out, so she'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 combat boredom throughout the day. Mix things up by rotating the toys that you give her for playtime.

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.

Final Thoughts

No one knows your pet like you do, except maybe your vet - you may want to check with your veterinarian if your dog starts exhibiting unusual behavior.

Once sure that your pet is in good health, you can engage them in activities using up their excess energy. Physical exertion is excellent for your dog, but puzzle toys and learning tricks that challenge them mentally are also great exercises for your pupster.

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