A plague in dog owners’ lives, the boredom of pets is a very serious problem that touches too many souls. Dogs are very demanding animals, and they need company, games and stimulating activities to be happy. Unfortunately for us, they also have a very limited understanding of the concept of going to work and paying bills!
Teaching your dog how to understand the requirements of human life would be practical, but luckily, we have easier ways to keep your dog from being bored when you’re busy, at work, out of the house or simply struggling to come up with new activities for him.
Your dog should be an important part of your schedule. If you’re at work at the same time everyday, you need to make sure that just like “going to the bank” or “going grocery shopping”, “spending time with my dog” is on your agenda.
Your dog needs to understand that you’re here for him, that you love him and that you’re ready to take hours out of your day to make room for him. Dogs are smart, and will very quickly feel ignored, sad and bored if they don’t have your companionship.
This seems obvious, but doing things together is primordial in your dog’s life. Try to adjust your agenda to different activities: not everyone can take an afternoon to play ball with their dog, but there are plenty of ways to make sure your dog is active and stimulated! For example, just switching up the walks he needs in the morning is a good thing.
Your dog needs to smell new smells, see new roads, walk different paths regularly so he isn’t stuck in a routine. Playing different games such as chase, hide and seek or Frisbee are good ways to keep your dog healthy and away from inactivity.
STEP 2: Teach Him How to Spend Time with Himself
When you eventually have to go to work and leave him at home by himself, don’t make him feel like he’s being given up on. It doesn’t come naturally to all pets, so you need to teach your dog how to stay busy when he’s home alone. This can be done by giving him specific tasks to do when you’re not around: he will feel purposeful and active, which is exactly what you want.
There are also plenty of games and toys that are made for dogs to play with alone. Get your dog toys
that he can spend time with. There are a wide variety of options: chewing toys, food puzzles, interactive toys, plushes… You will have to figure out what is best for him.
Some dogs can spend hours chewing, others will like the challenge of food puzzles, some just want the comfort of a plushes when they’re by themselves. Either way, make sure they have enough material to keep busy, healthy and happy when you’re not around to do it yourself.
STEP 3: Open up His Social Circle
Dogs needs friends! Yes, you’re your dog’s best friend, but they do need a social circle to make sure they get their healthy dose of interactions. Finding a place where your dog can meet other dogs (or other animals, if he’s good with them) will be excellent for your dogs’ physical and emotional health.
Playing with other dogs will help them feel understood, keep them active and avoid the existential boredom of being the only dog around. One of the best ways to do this but maybe not the easiest is to simply give them family. Dogs enjoy having brothers and sisters, or even cat companions. If you’re able to, having animals in pairs might be the single best way to make sure they’re never by themselves with no way to pass time.
If that isn’t available near you or you don’t think your dog will get along with other races, you can also extend his human social circle! Dog sitters are a very good way to make sure your dog is being taken care of in your absence, and they will give your dog new opportunities to make human friends. This also works with your friends or family. Don’t overwhelm your dog with too many new humans at the same time or they’ll lose precious points of references, but allow them to meet new people in order for boredom to never settle in their lives.
STEP 4: Work with Their Natural Curiosity
A lot of dogs enjoy some of the same things we humans do. Our tendency to people watch or sit in front of the TV when we’re bored is contagious! When you’re out, leave the television on.
An animal related program can be a good start if you don’t know what will catch your dog’s attention, but they definitely enjoy sitting in front of the screen and seeing what will happen next. It’s a calmer way to keep them from getting bored, as certain dogs aren’t as active as others. Keep all curtains and blinds open to give your animal the opportunity to spy on what happens outside your house: who knows, when you get home, they might have some secrets to tell you about the neighbors!
STEP 5: Leave the House with Him
A rather radical action, but a definitely effective one is to get your dog out of the house when you are. If you have a tolerant workplace, why not bring your dog to work with you? A new environment with rooms and people he hasn’t seen before will definitely keep him busy.
If your work doesn’t allow it, try doggy care: this will combine a few of the steps above, allowing him to meet other dogs and people as well as have fun all day. This is a more expensive solution, but will definitely eradicate the problem.