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Most pet parents will leave the house at some point during the week, and when we come home, there’s no telling what we’re walking into. If you find yourself entering a home that closely resembles a domestic explosion, chances are your dog is bored while you’re away.
Signs of a Bored Pup
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Destructive behavior, like chewing shoes, rugs, speakers, everything
- Digging, whether that’s in your trash or in your garden
If you are worried about your dog’s well-being (and you care about saving your shoes), tackling her boredom is probably on the top of your list.
How to Cure the Boredom Blues
The old adage is true: a tired dog is a good dog. By giving your dog plenty of exercise throughout the day, or at the least before you leave and after you return, you can help alleviate some of those crazy energy spurts that can lead to destructive behavior.
Taking your dog for a quick walk is good mental stimulation, but unless you’ve got a senior, it’s not near enough cardio exercise to tire out a healthy pup for the whole day. You’ll need to play games, take her for a run, or arrange puppy playdates. We recommend the Chuckit Launcher, Frisbee, or flirt pole to help burn up some energy before you head off to the office. A rough and tumble play session with a well-matched canine friend can exhaust your dog for the day too.
If you aren’t able to walk your dog before or even during the work day, a Rover walker can help you with scheduled walks and drop-in visits. Rover is an online platform and app that connects pet parents with people who have been screened, vetted and can guarantee that they’ll treat your pets like family. With Rover’s high ratings and consistent delivery of great pet service providers, pet parents can rest assured their home and their furry family members are in good hands.
Just like humans, dogs can become a little tired of the same old toys after a while. In the Psychology Today article Which Toys Do Dogs Prefer?, Psychologist and Doctorate of Science Stanley Coren says dogs exhibit “neophilia,” or a preference for new toys, and they prefer “soft, easily manipulatable toys that can be chewed easily and/or make a noise. Dogs quickly lose interest in toys with hard unyielding surfaces, and those that don’t make a noise when manipulated.” So, trying out new toys that fit this mold may help alleviate some boredom, but what about all the other toys you’ve got in the mix? Put all but four or five of them away, swapping out a new toy each day. This actually keeps the toys fresh to your dog.
For more ideas on toys and puzzles, check out Rover’s articles Toys to Keep Dogs Busy and the Best Puzzle Toys for Dogs.
Curing boredom with toys leads us to puzzles and interactive gadgets, such as ones you stuff with food, with which your dog must “figure” out to get a snack. Experts recommend putting breakfast kibble in a puzzle toy, or skipping the meal altogether and letting your pup play with a toy like the PupPod that simultaneously feeds your dog while engages their mind. You can also try a slow feeder dish, have a scavenger hunt with treats hidden around the house, stuff some peanut butter or wet food into a classic Kong, or let your dog bat around a treat dispensing ball filled with part of his dinner or small low calorie treats. It can lead to hours of entertainment!
If your dog is being destructive or accessing things he shouldn’t while you’re out, he’s got free reign of the place and you may want to consider crate training him. Much like our idea of a bedroom, a crate is a dog’s safe space where he can move around but also be kept out of mischief (or even danger). Just be sure he gets plenty of exercise outside of the crate.
Otherwise, look to make your dog’s area super comfortable and cozy for daytime naps. The comfier, the better. Next, leave a playlist on, or even TV – if you’re a DIRECTV subscriber, you can tune into DOGTV (also available on Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV), or try Animal Planet or NatGeo Wild to brush away the blues while you’re out.
If you’ve tried everything and anything and are still running into problems, consider doggy daycare! Your BFF is watched all day by trained pros, and the socialization and mental stimulation will keep your dog engaged and busy. It’s well known that dogs are social creatures and want a pack to bark down with. If doubling the pets in your house seems too stressful, doggy daycare can get all that crazy out while you’re at work. Read reviews and visit the facilities first – you’ll want to make sure aggressive encounters are kept to a minimum and dogs are separated if their personalities don’t mesh. Luckily, Rover handles doggy daycare too!
Keeping our dogs happy can be a source of stress for some pet parents, simply because we want what is best for them. Our pets make us so happy, we should return the favor! By plotting out your pup’s days – whether that’s with a mid-day walk or a scavenger hunt, you’ll see a major change in your dog… and your home.
This post is brought to you in partnership with Rover. Founded in 2011 with headquarters based in Seattle, WA, Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.