We just had a spell of cold weather, and I mean really cold, and if your dogs are anything like mine, they’ve been bouncing off the walls with cabin fever. Picture this: a dog climbing into the bathtub to grab a bar of soap and attempt to eat it. (I caught him before he could chew/swallow it and throw up bubbles for the next 24 hours); a dog trying to dig a hole in a plant to hide his bone; and a dog fighting with another dog when they are normally the best of buds. Can you relate?
Well, never fear, your heroic trainer is here with some solutions for bored dogs.
Is Your Dog Bored?
I just gave a few examples of a bored dog’s behavior, but here are some general signs that your dog may be bored.
- Out of the norm for his behavior: chewing shoes, shredding paper, tearing apart pillows, and even dragging streams of toilet paper all through the house.
- Excessive barking
- Digging in the yard (or your plants)
- Bugging you for attention way more than usual
What can you do to keep yourself and your dog sane?
There’s nothing like a good romp to expel the excess energy that builds when my dog is bored. Granted, when it’s bitter cold, you don’t want to spend prolonged time out of doors, but get outside for long walks as soon as the temperature moderates.
Giving your dog something mental to focus on also alleviates boredom. Think tug-of-war or hide-and-seek by hiding treats around the house and your dog has to go find them. Puzzle toys are also great, such as lick mats and toys you stuff with goodies. Consider making your own puzzle toys.
If you and your dog have ever taken a class from me, you know how exhausted your dog is after each session. Training provides the epitome of mental stimulation. Basic obedience is the place to start, and you can take it more than once to work on specific behaviors. In addition, follow up the training with some sessions of your own where you teach your dog some tricks. You’ll find some fun and easy tricks in this article.
You know how you go a little nuts when you’ve been isolated for too long, the same is true for your pup. Dogs need to engage with other dogs. I’m not a fan of dog parks for many reasons, but there are other ways to provide excellent socializing opportunities for your dog. For one, invite a friend who has a dog that is compatible with your dog for some playtime. Another option is to join up with doggy daycare, as in Wags to Riches!
These are just a few ideas to help you help your dog when the boredom gremlin hits. However, if you need some help, you can count on us!