Is your dog bored? Are you looking for some simple ways to keep your dog busy?
When dogs get bored they can develop some destructive behaviors. For thousands of years we’ve bred dogs to work alongside us so they’ve developed quite a work ethic.
The problem is most of us don’t have actual jobs for our dogs to do. They don’t have to work for their food, our affection or toys; they get it all for free. Getting stuff for free is great, but it leaves many of our dogs with a lot of down time.
So what happens when our dogs get bored? They get into trouble. If we don’t keep them mentally simulated or busy they’ll come up with their own ways to pass the time, and you’re probably not going to like their idea of a good time.
Luckily there are a few simple ways to keep your dog busy, entertained and out of trouble. Here’s 26 quick & easy ways to relieve dog boredom.
Bored Dogs Become Destructive
Is your dog bored? Dogs that are bored tend to get into trouble by looking for ways to entertain themselves. Boredom can lead to excessive chewing, barking, digging, and other destructive behaviors.
Our dogs were bred to work alongside humans, so without proper stimulation they can easily become bored. Instead of having a job to do most of our canine companions are left alone while we work – and then when we get home we hand them a free meal. That’s great for couch potatoes, but many of our dogs are left with a lot of excess energy at the end of the day. They need boredom busters & activities to occupy both their bodies and minds.
Luckily there are a few simple games you can play, toys you can try, treats you can make, and tricks you can teach to quickly relieve your dogs boredom.
Dogs Need Interactive Play & Fun Games
To keep your dog fit both physically and mentally you’ll need to come up with some interactive activities and dog toys to enjoy together. Whether you have a young or old dog, big or small – they need entertainment. From a simple game of fetch, working on obedience, or a trip to the local park; it’s up to you.
A recent study found that dogs that don’t engage in a lot of play exhibit more behavioral issues such as anxiety and aggression.
Dogs are social animals and they really enjoy being with us. Play is good for your dog physically, mentally and emotionally. Your dog gets exercise, they get to work their brain and it helps to build your bond. Everybody benefits from play. – The Power of Play: How Play Opened Up a New World For My Fearful Dog
Keeping Your Dog Busy Leads to Better Behavior
With so many great and simple choices it’s just a matter of finding a few that suit your lifestyle – and making the commitment. From choosing toys that will keep your dog busy, or changing up your walking routine, there’s so many possibilities.
I notice a huge difference in my dogs behavior after a simple obedience training session, it doesn’t take much time and it’s enjoyable for the both of us. An active, mentally challenged dog will make for a thriving, happy, and less destructive companion.
If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them. – Phil Pastoret
26 Ways to Relieve Dog Boredom
Is your dog bored? Check out this list of 26 easy ways to keep your dog busy and relieve dog boredom:
Play Some Nose Games With Your Dog
Hiding treats around the house or playing a game of hide and seek with your dog is a fun way to add in some extra mental stimulation to their routine. It’s one of the most versatile games you can teach your dog. Start off with a simple game of ‘guess which hand’ to get them started. It can be played anywhere, with toys or treats you already have.
Play Some Tug of War With Your Dog
Tug is a great way to mentally & physically challenge your dog. Short games of tug work wonders for tiring out our canine friends. Minute for minute a nice game of tug is one of the most physically & mentally challenging games you can play. And contrary to myth playing tug of war with your dog will not make him aggressive. If you don’t have a tug toy you can make your own with some fleece or old t-shirts.
Tip: Tug is a great interactive game for dogs, but there are a few basic rules to follow to keep it safe and fun.
Change up Your Walking Routine
Daily walks can get a little mundane if you’re going the same route everyday. Switch it up by exploring new neighborhoods and changing your pace. Allowing your dog to smell their surroundings adds mental stimulation. They’re not just visual creatures – they learn a lot from all those interesting smells. Giving them the opportunity to sniff around adds a lot of great mental stimulation.
Tip: Does your get dog have good leash manners? If not check out these 10 dog walking tips that make for a better dog walk.
Use Interactive Dog Toys
Using food dispensing toys, such as the Kong Wobbler and Bob-A-Lot Treat Dispenser, are an easy way to give your dog some more mental stimulation. There’s also a lot of great DIY toys you can make from items around your house like the great dog bottle game. Interactive dog toys are a great way to keep your dog occupied and mentally stimulated.
Work on Some Simple Obedience Training
Training your dog any new command gives their brain a workout. A few 10 minute sessions a day working with your dog on new tricks or commands burns a lot of mental energy. Teaching your dog a reliable recall & working on impulse control are some of the important basics to master – it’s always a great starting point. Sit, lay down, shake, stay, and come here are the basic commands to start with.
Give Your Dog a Simple Job
Have them help out with your chores or everyday routines. I’ve taught my dog Laika how to do some chores around the house. She helps me load laundry baskets, she knows how to clean up dog toys, and she’ll carry sticks and logs out to our wood pile. Incorporating your dog into everyday tasks can help relieve boredom. It also helps build their confidence; a dog that feels useful is a happy, confident dog.
Give Your Dog a Not So Simple Job
Find jobs for your dog that fulfill their breed tendencies. Retrievers tend to love fetching and Border Collies usually excel in agility. Find out what your dog absolutely loves doing and make it into a job for them. I personally love lure coursing for dogs – you can even set up a simple coursing track in your own yard. It’s a great way to burn off a lot of mental and physical energy, and if your dog loves to chase they’ll love lure coursing. If your dog likes to pull and you’re handy consider building him his own dog cart.
Arrange a Play Date For Your Dog
Give your dog some meaningful interaction by having a dog play date with your friends or family. If there’s some friendly dogs in your neighborhood even better – no need to make any special arrangements.
Build a Digging Box For Your Dog
If your dog loves digging build them their own personal digging box in your yard. Bury toys in it and let them find it; some dogs love digging so much this can keep them entertained for hours.
Get Your Dog a Jolly Ball
Any big ball toy can be a lot of fun, and jolly balls just tend to be more durable than a soccer ball (if your dog is a tough chewer make sure you get one without a handle). Some dogs love playing with these all by themselves, but of course you can always make it more interesting by playing with them. I don’t quite understand the allure of these magical items, but Laika goes insane for her red jolly ball.
Work on Clicker Training Your Dog
Clicker training your dog can be used for training new behaviors and rewarding ones you didn’t even ask for. It’s a way to clearly communicate with your dog the exact moment they perform a desired behavior; all the extra mental stimulation makes for a tired doggie. Dogs are always learning from us – just teaching them where to sit while you prepare dinner is mentally stimulating and enforcing good manners.
Practice Some Free Shaping Games
Shaping is building a particular behavior by using a series of small steps to achieve it. Letting your dog make their own choices burns an amazing amount of mental energy and helps your dog develop learning behaviors. Studies have found that by using positive training techniques such as shaping help a dog learn to make better decisions in the future. Check out Dr. Sophia Yin’s excellent video demonstrating free shaping.
Introduce Your Dog to New People and Places
Exposing your dog to new people and places is an important part of puppy socialization. It’s great for older dogs, too. Just like any behaviors a dog that isn’t exposed to new sights, sounds, and places can get a bit rusty. Work on their social skills every once in while with some new dogs and people.
Use a Stuffed Kong to Keep Your Dog Busy
When you leave your dog at home give him a stuffed Kong or another tough interactive toy to keep his mind occupied. One of Laika’s favorite things in the world is a frozen peanut butter filled Kong. When I leave she doesn’t even look up; she’s too busy working on that Kong. I’d recommend a Kong to anyone that’s looking for a simple toy that will keep your dog busy.
Tip: Not sure what to put in your Kong? Check out 39 healthy foods you can stuff in a Kong.
Use a Kiddie Pool or Take a Trip to the Lake
A lot of dogs naturally love water; on a summer day these dogs will love just splashing around and wading in a shallow pool. If you live by a dog friendly beach or lake even better. Many dogs love a good swim – not just Labs. It’s an amazing exercise for dogs with arthritis since it’s low impact.
Hire a Dog Walker
If your dog’s home alone for long periods of time consider hiring a dog walker. If you don’t want to hire someone see if one of your neighbors, relatives or friends would be willing to stop by every once and a while to let your dog out for a nice walk or game of tug.
Make Some Frozen Treats For Your Dog
You can freeze dogs treats in ice or make some ice cubes from broth. Just like a stuffed Kong, frozen dog treats are a great way to occupy your dog when you leave the house or need to do some chores. If you have a full sized Kong it’s pretty amazing how long they can keep a dog occupied.
Give Your Dog Some Extra Attention
Dogs are social creatures. A nice belly rub, massage, or grooming session is an easy way to create a meaningful interaction with your dog.
Alternate Toys to Keep Your Dogs Interest
According to studies dogs get bored with the same old toys. To keep your dog interested in his toys only give him access to a few at a time. My dog Laika only has access to a couple toys at a time – when we swap them out her enthusiasm for her older “new” toys is high. Keep them interesting by playing a simple game of fetch or tug, interaction will always make a toy much more desirable.
If your dog is a tough chewer like mine consider some Kong or West Paw Zogoflex toys – they’re the only toys my dog hasn’t been able to chew up. If it gets dark before you get home from work there’s glow in the dark dog toys available.
Give Your Dog a Nice View
Dogs like to know what’s happening outside so give them a chance to scope out the yard. A lot of dogs love napping in the warm sunlight in front of windows. Of course if you have cats they might have to compete for the nice sun spot.
Make Your Dog Work for His Food
When it’s time for his meals you can use a treat dispensing toy or simply make him do a few tricks to work for it. If you feed kibble you can also try hiding pieces around the house. Studies have found that dogs prefer earning treats to simply being given extras. It goes back to the fact that dogs have been bred to work alongside us; working is not only something to keep the occupied – it gives them a purpose.
Teach Your Dog to Relax
Not all dogs are naturals at relaxing. The relaxation protocol is a useful technique to teach your dog to sit and stay in a variety of situations. Sometimes a nice simple belly rub is enough to soothe and relax your dog – it’s also a great bonding experience.
Make a Flirt Pole for Energetic & High Drive Dogs
It’s a rod with a lure on the end and many dogs love chasing after them. You can make your own with PVC pipe, bungee cord, and a toy for the lure. Word of caution; flirt pole chasing can be really hard on a dogs joints so keep sessions short and don’t play with dogs under 1 year of age to avoid growth plate injuries.
Make a Simple DIY Puzzle Toy
If you’ve got a muffin tin and some tennis balls you can make yourself a dog puzzle right at home. Here’s 6 simple DIY dog toys you can make at home.
Give The Something to Chew On
Get some chew Toys, bones, or Bully Sticks. Most dogs love chewing, but be sure to keep an eye out for their safety. If they start to break them into pieces they become a choking hazard. Our personal favorite chew toys are Benebones – they’re durable, tasty & generally less expensive than antlers or bully sticks.
Make Your Own DIY Agility Course
Give your dog their very own agility course to brush up on obedience and teach them some fun tricks. Weave poles, a ramp, tunnel, or just a simple jump. You can create your own complete course for roughly $175.
Looking for some more creative ways to keep your dog entertained? Check out our list of 33 simple ways to keep your dog busy indoors.
Give Your Dog Mental & Physical Exercise
To keep your dog mentally and physically challenged give them some fun activities to do. Spending a little bit of extra time making sure your dog gets some meaningful interaction leads to a happy, healthy dog.
Dogs aren’t natural couch potatoes; they’ve been bred to work alongside humans. Relieve dog boredom by giving them something to do. With a little bit of imagination you can come up with all sorts of ways to help keep them entertained and busy.
Guests often laugh when I say “time to do laundry” and my dog readily jumps up and gets excited. There’s nothing wrong with getting your dog involved with your everyday chores; I even make my dog Laika bring me her leash when it’s time to go for a walk.
She eats her meals out of a Kong Wobbler; partly because she scarfs down her food quickly but mostly to keep her mind engaged. She helps me in the garden – she’s excellent at collecting wood for the firepit. Simple little tasks throughout the day really do add up.
What do you do to keep your dog busy and entertained? How do you relieve dog boredom? Any special treats or games?
Looking For More Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy?
Looking for more boredom busters for your dog? Check out our list of 33 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy Indoors for more ways to keep your dog happy, entertained and out of trouble.
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