Dog boredom affects many pets when they are left home alone but in the crazy world we live in today with work, school and activities just don’t allow for your dog to join you every place you go. Unfortunately, this leaves many dogs home alone and bored. How do you know if your dog is bored? There are many tell-tell signs.
- Leaving or Coming Home – if your dog is shaking, trembling, excessively drooling or even hyperventilating then you have a serious boredom and anxiety problem with your dog.
- Path of Destruction – When you come home is their a path of destruction including chewed furniture, torn clothing or the trash can contents strung through the entire house.
- Accidents – Are they urinating or leaving feces in the house. Some dogs with high anxiety will also vomit in the house.
- Hate Mail – Do your neighbors leave horrible messages on your answering machine or tape notes to your door complaining about the barking or whining while you were gone.
- Outdoors – Is your dog digging giant holes to China while you are gone or perhaps they’ve become an amazing escape artist and slip out of the yard while you are at work. Have they chewed up every garden tool, sprinkler and lawn furniture you own, then you definitely have a bored outside dog.
If your dog is exhibiting any of these behaviors, then you definitely have a dog boredom problem. The next step is to understand their boredom and find solutions to occupy their time while you are gone. Many pet owners feel bad leaving their dog’s home alone but they just don’t know what to do about it.
Where to Begin
Begin by telling yourself that it is okay to leave your dog home alone but it is your responsibility to give them the tools to occupy their time in a productive manner. What many pet parents do not know is that the destructive and anxiety ridden behavior their dog exhibits, often happens within the first thirty minutes after they have left the home.
Many dogs have difficulty coping with boredom and the anxiety caused from separation and you must find multiple ways to calm and distract them to alleviate this behavior. It’s important to keep in mind that dog’s do not become destructive or potty on the floor to hurt you or provoke a reaction from you either. This behavior is brought on by boredom and anxiety.
Dog’s do not intentionally set out to be naughty or “get back” at you for leaving them alone. They simply require stimulation to keep them entertained and active to avoid this destructive behavior.
Find Activities for Your Dog
The next step is to find fun, exciting and entertaining activities that will give your dog the stimulation they need to start avoiding and even conquering the boredom and anxiety problems. Every dog is different and has different likes and dislikes, so use the suggestions below as a starting point and then build on them with your own experience and insight of your dog.
- Exercise – Now making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise is extremely important but the goal you are shooting for is to stimulate them in the area where they are going to be located during your absence. Whether it’s inside the home or in the backyard, focusing on their location is key. Make that space a puppy playground that they will be excited to use.
- Games – You can find dozens of fun games that you can play with your dog or teach them to play on their own. One great activity is a version of hide and seek. Take a few low calorie treats or even some of their dog food and hide it around the room or in the yard. The first couple of times you play, you will want to make your dog part of the hiding process so they will understand and see that you are hiding their food. This way they will know to look for it. Never hide in hard to reach places, just casually put them out all over the room. The point is for them to find them fairly easy and keep them active and entertained.
- Toys – There are some amazingly fun toy available today that can keep a dog’s attention for long periods of time. One of my dog’s favorites is the dog toys that you can stuff full of treats or food. Put a bit of peanut butter inside one of these toys and your dog will work for hours getting every last drop out. Our other favorite is the new Crazy Critters or stuffing free toys. My Maddie can destroy a new chew toy within a day or two if it’s not up to snuff but we’ve had our Crazy Critters toy for just over three months now and the two dogs are just now managing to tear it up. This is their favorite toy and they play with it everyday. Their favorite game is tug-o-war but they both play with it individually too. This toy is washable, strong and durable and doesn’t leave stuffing all over your floor! There are many, many other toy choices. Buy an assortment and see what your dog really likes.
- Balls – I suppose balls are technically a toy too but in my house balls rule. It doesn’t matter what kind of ball it is, Rodeo will play with it and officially claim it as his own! He will play ball for hours with us or on his own. My daughters dog loves to throw the ball way up in the air by himself and chase it down. Never underestimate the value of a simple ball to keep your dog active.
- Frozen Treats – Try freezing pet milk, soup or broth for your dog and leave the frozen block in a bowl when you leave. As they melt, they are an enticing treat that they will continue to work at until it completely unfreezes.
- Doggy Day Care – If you have tried and tried multiple activities and your dog just isn’t able to stay alone, doggy day care is an excellent alternative. They take walks, play games, get treats and a multitude of other activities to help entertain your dog for the day.
- Dog Walkers – Hiring a dog walker to stop by the house and take your dog for a walk everyday is a great way to break the day up for your dog. It gives them exercise and outside stimulation. If your dog is an outside dog, consider asking the dog walker to spend part of the time in the backyard itself playing games. This will give your dog a companion and enforce the fun of the space.
- Companion Dogs or an Elderly Companion – You could consider bringing another dog into the home for a companion but this doesn’t always work out and can even make the problem worse if your dog doesn’t want another dog around. Try asking a friend and their dog over first a few times to see how your dog reacts to another dog before making that decision. Another option that recently caught my eye was elderly companions. The idea is to find an elderly person that loves animals and would also benefit from the daily companionship. Try your neighbors or check with your friends for potential candidates. You can also check with some retirement facilities to see if they have an animal program for your dog to come visit on certain days of the week. Dogs are very sensitive and seem to know the difference between people when it comes to children and the elderly. My dog Rodeo is extremely active being a Border Collie but last Christmas I watched him play ball with my Grandmother, who is in her 90’s, and gently bring the ball back to her each time and put it right in her lap. She loved it and I realized then that not only had Rodeo been stimulated but so had my Grandma both physically throwing the ball and engaging in conversation with Rodeo. What a Great Moment!
- Dog Sitter DVD’s – This is something I only recently found but I think it is an outstanding idea. Many people utilize the radio or TV by leaving it on when they leave to help their dog with boredom and panic attacks. However, now you can take that one step further by using a dog sitter DVD. The dog sitter DVD’s I looked at offered a great way to not only stimulate your dog physically but mentally. The video contain sounds that only your dog can hear and often include multiple animals such as birds, racoons and squirrels to stimulate your dog. They offer your dog a virtual outdoors with lots of animal friends to help them from feeling alone. There were many to choose from and I plan to try this out for my own dogs.
Fighting dog boredom and anxiety seem overwhelming and even impossible when you are facing a destructive scene and an unhappy dog but with a few simple tools and a little time and effort on your part, you can give your dog plenty of exciting and stimulating things to do. Imagine the difference of coming home to a nice calm, clean house and a happy dog.
I left the business world to pursue my passion of working with animals while trying to improve my health. To do this, I am using my 20+ years experience as a dog breeder and pet owner. I also worked for a well known veterinarian and national vet supply company for several years. I have a B.S. In Agriculture with an emphasis in Animal Science and Ag Business and I worked in the Agriculture Business Industry for over twenty years. If you are interested in the details of how the right dog food, dog care and just good old fashioned love and affection can help your dog live a healthier and longer life, please join us at: [http://www.love-your-dog-food.com]
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