our dogs had thumbs to twiddle so that we might notice…they are bored
Edgerly, BS, CDBC
glance it might appear that our dogs live wonderful lives; most are well
fed, well groomed, provided adequate shelter and medical attention. Our
dogs certainly appear to be happy and healthy - yet reports of behavior
problems seem to be at an all time high. The big question is why.
problems and anxiety disorders in dogs today are the result of simple boredom.
While nearly every living creature on earth has a long list of activities that
must be completed on a daily basis, domestic dogs lie in wait. They wait for us
to fill their bowl with kibble then polish it off in 30-seconds flat. They wait
for us to come home from work only to find we’re often too tired to play. They
wait for permission to join us anywhere, anytime because there is little else
for dogs to do. And while our dog’s enthusiasm and interest in all that we do
can be a very endearing quality, it probably stems more from a lack of outside
stimulation than love. I’m not saying our dogs don’t love us – I’m just saying
that I get a very enthusiastic greeting from the shelter dogs I visit each week
and we hardly know each other.
Here is some food
for thought if you want to keep your dog from getting bored and (sometimes)
acting out for this reason.
Signs Of Boredom
is destructive – destroys things indoors and/or outdoors.
Self-mutilation - dog excessively licks or chews its paws, legs or other body
parts. They will often lick so much they create large open wounds.
excessively mouths, barks, jumps, runs the fence, paces or eats stools.
has alone anxiety - exhibits destructive and/or excessive behaviors when left
is depressed – shows little or no interest in activities or interaction.
Feed your dog meals from a Busy Buddy, Havaball, Kong, Roll-A-Treat ball or
other enrichment device instead of a bowl. I always take a percentage of my
dogs kibble on our daily walks and toss individual pieces for her to chase,
find or catch.
your dog loves water and you have a section of lawn that is too dry, get a
hose and water by hand as you create a fun stream of water for your dog to
Give your dog old water bottles or milk jugs made of either cardboard or
plastic. You can increase the dog's interest by putting food items inside.
(Always remove the plastic rings and the plastic caps before allowing dogs
to play with these items and closely supervise to ensure plastic isn’t being
swallowed). Many dogs will also play with 5-gallon water jugs.
Take different routes when walking your dog so he can experience novel
smells, sights and sounds.
Provide lots of chewies. The act of chewing is very calming for dogs. Raw
knuckle bones (never provide cooked bones), antlers, cow hooves, bully
sticks and compressed rawhide are considered safe for most dogs.
Get a child's wading pool and fill it with water so your dog can splash
around. Get a second pool fill it with sand then bury things your dog likes
Satisfy your dog's need to hunt and forage by letting him play "Find It"
games. Hide his kibble or treats around the house or yard and send him out
to find them.
Play games like fetch, frisbee, tug or hide-n-seek with your dog.
recently discovered that a lunging whip used for training horses with a toy
tied to the end is perhaps, the best toy ever for young active dogs that
love to chase toys; especially dogs don’t bring objects back when playing
fetch. 15-minutes of active chase and most dogs are plenty pooped for a
Practice old skills or teach your dog something new. A half hour training
session (using a positive training method such as clicker training)
generally tires a dog out longer than an hour long walk. There is a wealth
of free information and videos on the internet that can give you some great
Rotate toys so they stay new and exciting instead of making everything
accessible all the time. Some known dog favorites: Hide-a-Squirrel, The
Wiggly Giggly Ball,
Water Bottle Buddies, Petstages Dog Toys, Teaser Balls and treat dispensing
toys. Small dogs often enjoy playing with toys found in the cat section.
Give your dog a massage or Ttouch.
One idea that works well for ball-crazy dogs is to hang a tether ball from a
cable strung across the dog’s kennel or between two trees. The tether ball
should be hung at nose level and should be attached to the cable with some
type of roller so that it moves easily. Encourage your dog to chase the
ball a few times, praising excitedly when he pushes it down the cable. Soon
he will play this game all by himself, sometimes exhausting himself in the
process! For added safety, particularly with short or young dogs who can
wrestle the ball to the ground, encase the hanging cable/rope in a length of
PCV pipe before attaching the tetherball.
Get your dog together with other dogs and let them play. You can make
individual play dates, host parties or take your dog to a location where
other dogs get to play off-leash.
Fill an ice-cube tray or Tupperware bowel with water, add dog treats and
freeze. Pop the ice out and provide outdoors for lots of lick and chase
Leave classical music or talk radio on when you leave the home. This can
help relieve anxiety in many dogs.
Consider hiring a dog walker or taking your dog to a daycare facility a
couple days a week if you are regularly gone more than 6 consecutive
Hang rope or inner tubes from a branch or other item in the yard for the dog
to play tug with.
Some dogs will play with old tires either loose on the ground or hanging
Blow bubbles and watch your dog dance around in hot pursuit. You can even
buy bacon and chicken flavored bubbles just for dogs.
When possible, take your dog along when visiting friends or running errands.
Fill a doggie backpack water bottles and have your dog wear it during walks
for added benefit.
Jog, rollerblade, skateboard or bike with high energy dogs that never seem
there you have it - a whole smorgasbord of ideas to choose from. And there are
many more great tips and techniques available for free on the Internet. Perhaps
the biggest benefit of all this interaction is that it will vastly improve your
bond with your canine friend. In other words, your dog will love you for it!
Edgerly, owner of Bingo! Dog Training & Boarding School in Royal Oaks,
California, is a Professional Dog Trainer & Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.
To contact Cynthia please go to her website: http://www.bingodogtraining.com
or call 831 768-9308.