Every dog needs a different level of stimulation. Some need continuous entertainment, while others prefer to tinker quietly for just a few minutes a day.
You need to be able to spot if your dog is bored, as without enough to do he may become depressed or develop behavioural problems.
Bored dog: the consequences
Dogs’ lives have become far more organised and sedentary over the years, as have humans. In most societies, neither species works and strives so close to the edge of survival as our ancestors did in the wild. But while people develop ever-sillier solutions for the boredom that comes with central-heated homes and 9-5 jobs, dogs have refused to do so. No iPad for Rover, no meditation for Patch. If your dog doesn’t get enough indoor play, outdoor exploration, and social time with other dogs and humans, it will have an impact on his mental health. He may get depressed, yes. Or he may begin to make his own entertainment, behaving badly around the home in an effort to burn off his excess energy. So how can you spot that your dog is bored before it is too late?
Bored dog symptom #1: He chews everything
Ok, so maybe if he’s chewed everything it’s already too late. But look out for early signs of gnawing, because your dog will use his teeth as a toy if he is under-stimulated. This is especially the case for puppies. Young pups are still teething, and they chew stuff to learn about the world around them. Plus, they might not yet have been taught that your furniture is an inappropriate snack.
Bored dog symptom #2: He tries to escape
If you’ve ever surprised yourself by volunteering to do the mail run at work, you’ll know that escape isn’t always a conscious choice. When you’re bored, you naturally wander away in search of stimulation. For a bored dog with his astonishing nasal and aural radar system, a research trip beyond the boundaries of your home is even more enticing. So look out for signs of digging or jumping at your garden fence. And take precautions if your dog makes a dash for the front door every time you answer it. Could be that your dog thinks he’s Steve McQueen and playing alone with his ball doesn’t cut it any more.
Bored dog symptom #3: He barks. A lot.
There’s little more frustrating about your furry baby than that when he won’t be quiet. But dogs bark for a reason, not just to annoy you and make you unpopular among the neighbours. It could be that he’s under-stimulated and over-energetic. Every passer-by or distant sound becomes a cause for concern. He is playing at being a guard dog because there’s nothing else to do. Or maybe he just wants your attention. There’s nothing worse than being ignored.
Bored dog symptom #4: He brings chaos to your domain
The opposite of nothing happening is chaos. This may be the direction your dog defaults to when he’s bored. It can be a shock to come home and find your dog has emptied every bin, unsheathed every cushion, and rearranged your bookshelves. But he’s only burning off energy. Maybe he needs more toys? In fact, it's usually a matter of exercise. Take your dog out for plenty of walkies and adventures and you can avoid him getting bored in the first place.
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