By Nicole Caldwell for FourLeggedGuru.com
There’s nothing worse than dealing with aggression or behavioral issues in adult dogs—and no simpler solution than doing away with the boredom that causes it.
Dogs were bred to be companion animals. They’ve worked and played by our sides for thousands of years. When we don’t give them the attention or work they need, dogs respond by acting out.
Does your dog run amok when you’re at work all day? Is he or she bouncing off the walls every time you walk through the door? Here are some simple ways to stave off canine boredom while you’re not home.
You can’t be bored when you’re tired
First things first: Your dog needs exercise! A dog who goes running or on a long walk with you in the morning before you head out for work is a dog who’s more likely to take a long nap once you’re out the door.
Exercise needs are dependent on your dog’s size, breed, health and age—but suffice to say, all dogs should be getting between 30 minutes and two hours of activity EVERY DAY. Behavioral or boredom-related problems are most often caused by dogs who don’t get that recommended allotment. Furry companions who were born into hunting, working or herding breeds need even more exercise than that; specifically, at least 30 minutes of serious exercise like sprinting or swimming along with an hour or two of activity.
If you’re not a runner, that’s OK. There are lots of ways to exercise with your dog, including swimming, cycling, rollerblading and even just playing fetch.
If it’s within your means, it’s also worth considering having a dog-walker visit halfway through the day to take your pup out for stroll.
You can’t cause trouble when you’re concentrating on something else
One great way to ensure your dog isn’t bored and getting into trouble while you’re out all day is to give him a project. Dog toy puzzles will test your companion’s memory and recall skills, with great rewards like treats.
Interactive dog toys (also called enrichment dog toys) serve specific functions for all kinds of dogs. Some make sounds (squeakers, crinkled plastic tails, electronic noises), move on their own (hanging parts, various textures, electronic toys that move on their own), or provide rewards like treats. Your dog may respond more to one of these particular styles, which you can then zero in on to provide entertainment while you’re away.
You can’t be bored when you’re having fun
Destructive dogs are dogs looking to entertain themselves when there’s a lack of stimuli. If you’ve got a dog who loves to chew, invest in some indestructible dog toys. If your dog loves being outside, try changing up your walking routine to give your pup a change of scenery and smells. And most importantly, let your dog stop to smell the flowers (and hydrants)!
You might also consider creating a cooperative “doggy day care” playdate with other dogs your pet gets along great with. You can rotate whose house the dogs hang out at for the day. Dogs who have companions to spend time with are significantly less likely to cause damage while the humans are away.
You can’t be bored when you’re being responsible
Even adult dogs can benefit from occasional obedience classes. Mentally challenging your dog to pick up new tricks, show some discipline and respond to suggestions all help her to also use the time you’re not home to relax.
You can also involve your dog in your everyday chores. At my farm, my dogs come with me for the whole morning routine of bringing water to farm animals, giving feed to the chickens, carrying wood in for the wood stove, and offering grain to the alpacas and horse. Involving my dogs in these tasks (even when they’re not the ones doing the work!) gives them a great sense of purpose and confidence while also ensuring they behave around animals much smaller than them, like chickens.
You can’t be bored when you’re taking in the view
Dogs are just like all other animals in that they love a great view. Make sure you have a window or sliding door they can reach to see out of. My dogs can spend hours sitting near low windows watching traffic and birds outside.
Got your own tips for preventing doggie boredom? Leave your tips in the comments!